GRAPHIC: Noah Weaver, The Stormwater Pollution Cycle, 2021
The Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Water Quality for Fisheries Program (WQ4F) includes a coalition of recreational and commercial fishers that work to identify, prioritize, and tackle actions that protect the quality of water and quality of life in coastal NC. During the WQ4F survey, those who fish on the coast of NC identified stormwater pollution as a top priority focus for reducing water quality impacts to fisheries.
Due to rapid growth in coastal areas, increased construction, and the draining of wetlands, the amount of impervious surfaces has increased tremendously in coastal North Carolina.
Impervious surfaces are developed areas such as roads, sidewalks, parking lots, rooftops, and construction sites that are impermeable; therefore, water does not soak through the surface. Instead, stormwater runs over the impervious surfaces, catches and concentrates contaminants, and washes them into drainage ditches or storm drains which lead to surface waters and beach areas.
Stormwater runoff is one of the greatest contributors to nutrient loading in surface waters. This type of nonpoint source pollution comes from the drainage in urban and suburban areas. As a result of N loadings, eutrophication has been described as the “single largest threat to the integrity of coastal ecosystems” (Song, et al., 2014).
The CCRW Advocacy Working Group is currently working on local efforts to reduce stormwater runoff. Efforts include attending local meetings to advocate for low impact development and protecting natural heritage areas in need of conservation.