Stormwater FAQ

 General
Drainage
Stream Buffers
Easements
Utility Fee

General

Q:  What is Stormwater?
           A: Stormwater is the flow of water that results from precipitation and which occurs immediately following rainfall or as a result of snowmelt.  When a rainfall event occurs, several things can happen to the precipitation.  Some of the precipitation infiltrates into the soil surface, some is taken up by plants, and some is evaporated into the atmosphere. Stormwater is the rest of the precipitation that runs off land surfaces and impervious areas.

Q:  How is stormwater polluted?
           A:  Storm water runoff accumulates pollutants such as sediment, oil and grease, chemicals, nutrients, metals, and bacteria as it travels across land. Heavy precipitation or snowmelt can also cause sewer overflows that may contaminate water sources with untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and other debris.

Q:  What is the #1 source of stormwater pollution?
           A:  Sediment is often viewed as the largest pollutant load associated with stormwater runoff in an urban setting. The loadings have been shown to be exceptionally high in the case of construction activity.  Sediment is associated with numerous impacts in surface waters including increased turbidity, effects on aquatic and benthic habitat and reduction in capacity of impoundments.  A number of other pollutants often attach to, and are carried by, sediment particles.

Q:  How do nutrients such as Nitrogen get into stormwater?
           A:  Nutrients enter stormwater in a variety of ways, including landscaping practices (commercial and home), leaks from sanitary sewers and septic systems, and animal wastes.  The air we breath is also made up of mostly Nitrogen which then gets brought down to the ground when it rains. 

Q:  Why are ponds required for new development?
           A:  Environmental regulations require that new development treat the stormwater from the development so that it is no more polluted after development than before.  The ponds are one of the types of treatment for stormwater.

Q:  Doesn't stormwater get treated at the waste water treatment plant?
           A:  NO.  Unlike sinks, showers, and toilets, when anything goes down a storm drain it goes directly to the nearest stream, lake, or river.  Any pollution that is in that stormwater or dumped down the drain will end up in our waterbodies untreated.

Q:  Are there any jobs available in stormwater?
           A:  The stormwater field is an expanding career opportunity as environmental regulations get stricter.  There are opportunities for new ideas and concepts that could make a large impact on the environment and development.  The City of Wilson posts all available jobs online.

Top of Page

Drainage

Q:  Who is responsible for maintaining the ditch on my property?
           A:  Per city ordinance the property owner is responsible for the maintenance of any open ditches located on his or her property.  The stormwater division will ensure that the ditch remains clear enough for proper flow of stormwater but DOES NOT cut or maintain vegetation for aesthetics or any other reason. 

Q:  What should I do if my street or property is flooding?
           A:  Report any stormwater concerns by calling the City of Wilson Stormwater Hotline at 252-296-3305.  Staff from the stormwater division will investigate the concern and take any appropriate action. 

Q:  What should I do if I notice something or someone blocking a storm drain or ditch?
           A:  Report any stormwater concerns by calling the City of Wilson Stormwater Hotline at 252-296-3305.  Staff from the stormwater division will investigate the concern and take any appropriate action. 

Top of Page

Stream Buffers

Q:  What is a stream buffer?
           A:  A stream buffer or "riparian" buffer is the strip of land immediately adjacent to the stream bank to 50-100 feet from the stream.  This area is one of the most important defenses against stormwater pollution.  Regulations restrict development and clearing in this area so that the trees and vegetation can help filter stormwater pollution prior to it entering the stream.

Q:  What is allowed in a stream buffer?
           A:  The NC Division of Water Quality regulates what activities are allowed within a stream buffer.  There are 2 zones of protection.  Zone 1 consist of the 30 feet closest to the stream and this area is to be left "undisturbed".  Zone 2 consist of 30-50 feet from the stream and this area may be graded so long as it is revegetated and no building is allowed.

Top of Page

Easements

Q:  What is a stormwater easement?
           A:  An easement is a dedicated piece of private property with certain restrictions that allow for access and maintenance of a stormwater drainage pipe, or ditch.  The easement is owned by the property owner not the City but it is provided so that the city can maintain public drainage on private property.

Q:  What is and is not allowed within a stormwater easement?
           A:  Because the city may need to bring in heavy equipment or excavate within an easement, permanent structures like buildings are not allowed.  Driveways, fences, and landscaping are allowed within the easement but the City will not be responsible for replacing any of these items if they must be removed for maintenance access. 

Q:  Who maintains the vegetation on a stormwater easement?
           A:  An easement, just like any other private property is owned and maintained by the property owner.  The City is not responsible for maintenance or replacement any of the grass, trees, brush, or landscaping within an easement.  The City will maintain public drainage features to ensure proper flow but not for aesthetics.

 Top of Page