Coastal Federation, Brunswick County, N.C. DOT To Examine Low Impact Development For Road Projects

September 1st, 2009

Wilmington, N.C.—Thanks to the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), a non-profit, a local government and a state agency will be able to collaborate on ways to incorporate low impact development (LID) practices into state highway and development construction by reducing stormwater flows. And reducing polluted stormwater will help clean up local waters.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF) has received a $75,650 grant from the CWMTF to initiate a cooperative LID planning process with Brunswick County and the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Highway Stormwater Program (NCDOT).

The project will identify cost-effective options for the use of LID design practices into highway infrastructure projects that may help protect and restore the water quality in the Lockwood Folly River watershed. It will also provide LID tools to developers working in the area as part of a holistic approach to tackling water quality problems.

Stormwater is rain water that falls upon hardened, or impervious, surfaces, picking up pollutants on the ground and flushing them into our creeks, rivers and sounds. LID practices seek to use planning, design features and other techniques to capture and treat polluted stormwater and protect water quality.

In the project, NCDOT, LID experts and engineers from the Maryland and Florida DOTs will examine LID practices as cost-saving measures in real-world highway and road projects. The discussion will provide information for NCDOT engineers as they move forward with planning other road projects.

Dave Henderson, NCDOT’s State Hydraulics Engineer, said, “The project comes at an opportune time for our interagency planning process. The information we develop will have long-term implications for future DOT practices.”

The project expands upon previous work and the momentum generated by ongoing efforts to protect and restore valuable shellfishing and recreational waters of the Lockwood Folly River. NCCF and the county brought together major stakeholders in a group called the Lockwood Folly Roundtable. In 2007, this group recommended a blueprint of nine actions to protect and restore water quality in the Lockwood Folly River.

Brunswick County commissioners subsequently accepted the blueprint, and this project represents another step in implementing three of the recommendations:

(1) promoting better coordination of the dozens of federal, state and local government programs and agencies involved in environmental management;

(2) promoting widespread use of LID practices in new land developments and

(3) encouraging projects that reduce existing levels of stormwater pollution by facilitating the identification, design, construction and maintenance of retrofit projects.

NCDOT owns and operates the county’s largest stormwater drainage system, and the agency wants to see how LID might be used to improve the county’s water quality issues in a cost-effective way.

The CWMTF was established 1996 to help finance projects that enhance or restore degraded waters, protect unpolluted waters, and/or contribute toward a network of riparian buffers and greenways for environmental, educational and recreational benefits.