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Stormwater Is a Dirty Word!

Storm DrainStormwater runoff is rainwater that flows over land and directly into waterways. Stormwater runoff is not treated and is the #1 source of surface water pollution. Everything that finds its way into the drainage system, such as pet waste bacteria, grass clippings, fertilizer, pesticides, litter, and heavy metals, flows straight into our creeks, river, and ocean. Stormwater pollution impacts where we fish, where we swim, and what we drink.

Remember, you are the solution to stormwater pollution!

Where Does Our Water Go?

3 Water Systems Poster(PDF, 3MB) The drinking water treatment system treats and transports clean, potable, drinking water to homes and businesses.

The wastewater treatment system (also known as the sanitary sewer system) carries sewage and wastewater from homes and businesses to a wastewater treatment plant. Wastewater is treated and cleaned before it is discharged into the Cape Fear River. Think of this as the "brush and flush" system.

The storm drainage system carries stormwater runoff from streets and property directly into waterways. The storm drainage system includes streets, storm drains, drainage ditches, pipes, culverts, retention ponds, wetlands, creeks, etc. Remember, stormwater runoff is not treated!

Which Watershed & River Basin Do I Live In?

Watershed DiagramEveryone lives, works, and plays in a watershed. In fact, everywhere you go, you're in a watershed! A watershed is an area of land that drains to a specific creek, lake or waterway. Watersheds drain water from the highest point to the lowest point. In Wilmington, watersheds drain into the Cape Fear River or Intracoastal Waterway. These ultimately drain into the Atlantic Ocean.

Wilmington Watersheds Map For example, if you live in the Hewletts Creek Watershed, stormwater runoff from your property will drain into Hewletts Creek first, then eventually into the Intracoastal Waterway, and then the Atlantic Ocean.

If you live in the Smith Creek Watershed, runoff from your property will drain into Smith Creek first, then into the Cape Fear River, and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean.

To find your watershed, click on the map and follow the instructions.

NC River Basins Map(PDF, 2MB)On a larger scale, Wilmington's watersheds lie in both the Cape Fear River Basin(PDF, 2MB) and the White Oak River Basin(PDF, 1MB). Howe, Bradley, Hewletts, and Whiskey Creek watersheds are considered to be in the White Oak River Basin, although they don't flow into the White Oak River. These tidal creek watersheds drain directly into the Intracoastal Waterway.

Click the map to view NC River Basins.

What Is a Stormwater Solution?

Rain Garden A "stormwater solution" (also known as a BMP or SCM) is a personal action or on-the-ground practice that reduces polluted runoff flowing into waterways. Visit the Stormwater Demonstration Site located in Anne McCrary Park at 4000 Randall Parkway to view and learn about on-the-ground stormwater solutions.

You can also learn about stormwater solutions in our Citizen's Guide to Protecting Wilmington's Waterways(PDF, 5MB).

On-the-Ground Stormwater Solutions include:

  • Rain Barrel
  • Rain Garden
  • Shoreline Buffer
  • Native Plants
  • Backyard Wetland
  • Pervious Pavement

Personal Actions/Solutions:

  • Picking up after your pet
  • Washing your car on the grass
  • Getting a soil test
  • Disposing of yard debris properly
  • Disposing of paint and chemicals properly
  • Not littering
Learn more about Stormwater Solutions and Funding Programs: