Stormwater and Erosion Control

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What is Stormwater?
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.

How is stormwater polluted?
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.

What is the #1 source of stormwater pollution?
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.

How do nutrients such as Nitrogen get into stormwater?
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.

Why are ponds required for new development?
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.

Doesn’t stormwater get treated at the waste water treatment plant?
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.

Are there any jobs available in stormwater?
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.


Who is responsible for maintaining the ditch on my property?
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.

What should I do if my street or property is flooding?
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.

What should I do if I notice something or someone blocking a storm drain or ditch?
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.

Stream Buffers

What is a stream buffer?
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.

What is allowed in a stream buffer?
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.


What is a stormwater easement?
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.

What is and is not allowed within a stormwater easement?
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.

Who maintains the vegetation on a stormwater easement?
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.


What are the most common violations?
Click here (PDF) for a presentation full of information all about the most common Stormwater violations.

What should I do if I notice a stormwater violation?
Preventing stormwater pollution is everyone’s responsibility. If you notice anything other than rain flowing into the street or down a storm drain it could be a stormwater violation. If you think that you are the cause of the violation:

  • Identify the source of the problem (leaking car, spill, wash water, etc).
  • Prevent further damage. (catch the leak, clean up the spill, stop washing, etc.)
  • Report the violation to the stormwater hotline 252-296-3306.
  • Self reporting will almost never result in a notice of violation or fines.
  • Work with the stormwater Division to contain the violation and prevent future repeat occurrences.
  • If you notice a violation caused by someone else: Report the violation to the stormwater hotline 252-296-3306.


What is an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU)?
An ERU is the amount of impervious surface (measured in square feet) on a typical, single family, residential (SFR) property in Wilson . That amount is 2,585 square feet. The ERU was determined by performing detailed measurements of impervious surfaces contained on a sample of SFR properties selected at random across all areas of the City. The resulting data was analyzed and the median impervious surface value for the data set determined the ERU value.

What constitutes impervious area?
Impervious area is any surface which inhibits infiltration of rainfall into the soil. This includes pavement (asphalt, concrete, brick pavers, etc.), rooftops, non-wooden decks and patios (wooden decks with slotted surfaces are deemed pervious unless the underlying surface is impervious), and graveled surfaces. Graveled driving surfaces generally have been compacted to the point of being impervious. Graveled landscaping is generally underlain by an impervious membrane. Swimming pools are considered pervious because they typically retain any rainfall which falls on them. Paved decks adjacent to pools are considered impervious.

How are impervious surfaces determined?
Impervious surfaces are measured from aerial photographs that have been processed to produce scaled images from which accurate measurements can be made. In certain cases, the City has verified or augmented photographic measurements using field measurements or data supplied on site plans. Where a customer disputes the amount of impervious area on a property, that customer can appeal the stated amount by presenting to the City Stormwater Program Manager a digital drawing of a site survey, prepared and sealed by a registered Professional Land Surveyor or registered Professional Engineer, showing and summarizing impervious surfaces on the site.

How will residential properties be billed?
Each residential property will be charged for one ERU. The fee will appear on the City utility bill.

How will non-residential properties be billed?
Each non-residential property will be measured (see #3 above) to determine the amount of impervious area on the property. That impervious area will be converted to ERUs based on one ERU per 2,585 square feet of impervious area. All partial ERUs will be rounded up to the next whole number and the property will be billed the amount of the number of ERUs times the Stormwater Service Fee rate (currently $3.80/ERU/month). The fee will appear on the City utility bill and no bill will be for less than 1 ERU.

How will partial payments (or non-payment of the Stormwater Service Fee) be handled?
Partial payments of the City utility bill will be applied to charges on the bill in accordance with the City’s payment application schedule as maintained by the Finance Department. This procedure applies to all charges on the utility bill. Collection procedures for non-payment will follow the standard City process for collection of any delinquent utility bill.

How will mobile home sales lots be billed?
Mobile home sales lots will not be charged for mobile homes waiting to be sold. Only permanent impervious areas will be used to determine the number of ERUs for the property. The permanent features will include parking lots, sales offices (mobile or otherwise) and outbuildings (mobile or otherwise), etc.

How will rental properties be billed?
For residential rental properties, generally, the party responsible for the City utility bill will receive the Stormwater Service Fee. In some special residential cases, the fee will be billed to the property owner or manager. For non-residential rental properties, the fee will be established in accordance with item 5 above and the bill sent to the party receiving the utility bill in the case of single tenants. Where multiple, non-residential tenants are present, the bill will be sent to the owner, property manager, or whoever is responsible for the tax bill. Special arrangements will be made for properties which do not have other City utility services. In these special cases, the bill can be sent to the owner, renter, or some other responsible party such as a mortgage company or trustee. In cases of disputed responsibility, the owner of the property will ultimately be responsible for payment of the service fee. Where desired and approved by the City Stormwater Program Manager, special Per Account Billing can be set up to have the fee billed to non-residential tenants. To implement Per Account Billing, the owner or designated representative must apply through the Stormwater Program Manager.

What period of time will the Stormwater Service Fee cover?
The Stormwater Service Fee will apply to the calendar month in which it is billed. There will be no pro-rating of service fees for partial months. For example, a service fee billed in July will cover the entire month of July, even if the property was vacated half way through the month.

What happens when a residential property becomes vacant and all other utility services are cut off?
A property’s impact on stormwater quantity and quality doesn’t change significantly because of occupancy, therefore the Stormwater Service Fee applies whether or not the property is occupied. Once a residential, rental property becomes vacant and other utilities are cut off, the owner will have a grace period of 6 months to re-rent the property and resume Stormwater Service Fee payment. Since the service fee covers the entire month in which it was billed, the 6-month grace period will start on the first day after the last paid bill. Stormwater Service Fees for the vacant period will be waived so long as service payment is resumed within 6 months. If the grace period is exceeded, the Stormwater Service Fee will be assigned to the property owner and will accrue from the date of last payment. If the grace period is exceeded, water, sewer, gas and electrical services will not be connected until the back Stormwater Service Fees are paid and the account is brought up to date.

Will City property taxes go down as a result of this Utility?
The City Council is responsible for setting and adjusting City taxes and no changes are anticipated as a result of this Utility. The revenue from the Stormwater Management Utility will be used only for stormwater management within the City of Wilson . City tax revenues are not sufficient to support the City’s Stormwater Management Program and the services to be provided by the Utility-funded Stormwater Program far exceed any the City has provided in the past.

What happens when a non-residential property becomes vacant and all other utility services are cut off?
A property’s impact on stormwater quantity and quality doesn’t change significantly because of occupancy, therefore the Stormwater Service Fee applies whether or not the property is occupied. When the property becomes vacant and other City utility services are cut off, the Stormwater Service Fee will be assigned to the property owner for payment. The City’s standard collection procedures will apply if the owner is delinquent.

Will tax-exempt properties, such as churches, non-profit organizations, local, state and federal agencies, and public utilities have to pay a Stormwater Service Fee?
All properties with impervious areas, including tax-exempt properties, increase stormwater runoff and contribute to stormwater pollution. All properties are required to pay the Stormwater Service Fee.

Are railroad tracks and roadbeds impervious?
Railroad tracks and roadbeds are pervious due to the gap-graded ballast used in construction which allows stormwater infiltration. Paved surfaces and buildings associated with railroad yard and facilities are impervious in the same way as other properties.

How is billing for new properties initiated?
New properties will begin paying the stormwater fee when a certificate of occupancy is issued by the City Inspections Department. This coincides with billing of utility services such as water, sanitary sewer, gas and electricity. New residential properties will be billed a single ERU. New non-residential properties will be charged based on the amount of impervious area reported as required on the site plan which must be reviewed and approved by the City.

How is billing data developed for properties which do not fit typical residential or non-residential properties?
The City Stormwater Program Management staff is responsible for obtaining impervious area measurements for all properties. Atypical properties may require additional research to obtain impervious areas, compute ERUs, and determine billing responsibility. The City Stormwater Program Manager is responsible for obtaining and providing this information to the Finance Department so that accurate bills can be generated, sent, and collected.

Why are partial ERUs always rounded up to the next whole number for non-residential properties?
Rounding up of partial ERUs is a policy decision and is not based on mathematical correctness. The policy is implemented to 1) simplify the management of impervious area data, and 2) to recognize that the actual impervious area on a site will almost always be greater than what is charged. The added accuracy of rounding up or down to a whole ERU or charging based on fractions of an ERU does not justify the cost to achieve and maintain the data. This is a policy that many utilities use.

Water Quality

Code Enforcement – The Stormwater Management Ordinance details specific regulations about what substances may be discharged into the storm drainage system. Illegal discharges of substances such as oil, chemicals, and yard debris are identified and may result in cleanup and fines.

New Development Review – New development is one of the main sources of stormwater pollution. The state Division of Water Quality has tasked the City of Wilson to review plans for new development to ensure that appropriate practices and treatment are being used to minimize and avoid water quality impacts

Public Education – A major component of any successful regulation program is public education. The Stormwater Division provides workshops, classroom demonstrations, educational fair booths, and participates in a cooperative effort with other local governments to produce TV and radio announcements.

Stormwater Retrofits – As understanding of water quality increases and technology develops, it is important to apply new treatment techniques to existing development to reduce the pollution from these sites. The Stormwater Division works with county, state, and federal agencies for grants to install these retrofits.

Best Management Practices – BMP’s are structures or practices that best avoid and/or minimize impacts to water quality from development. The most widely recognized is a wet pond but there are several different types of BMP’s that treat stormwater in various ways and must be properly inspected and maintained.

Public Involvement – Beyond public education, the Adopt-A-Stream program allows the public to become actively involved in monitoring, protecting, and cleaning up the waterways of Wilson.

Erosion Control

Erosion Control Plan Submittal Process1(PDF)

Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Ordinance (PDF)

Erosion Control for Single Family Home Construction (PDF) went into affect July 1, 2009. The attached link outlines the permit process. The cost of the Erosion Control Permit is $75 and can be obtained at the City of Wilson Inspections Department located at 112 Goldsboro Street, E.

Erosion Control Checklist (PDF)

Erosion Control Jurisdiction Map

Grading Permit Application Form (PDF)

Financial Responsibility-Ownership (PDF)

Erosion Control Fee Schedule

Plan Review Fee Land Disturbance Permit Fee Total Fee
$75/Disturbed acre for all sites disturbing > 1 acre $75/Disturbed acre for all sites disturbing > 1 acre $150/Disturbed acre
Single family home construction disturbing < 1 acre has no plan review fee $75 Flat rate for all single family home construction < 1 acre $75
Wilson C.A.R.E.S.

(Community Awareness, Restoration, and Environmental Stewardship)

Watch the edition of “Around Town” where City and County officials have teamed up to show that “Wilson Cares” about the environment.

Wilson County and the City of Wilson have partnered to create the Wilson C.A.R.E.S. program. Wilson C.A.R.E.S. includes Community Awareness, Restoration, and Environmental Stewardship. This effort is designed to promote and encourage active participation from Wilson’s citizens, organizations, and businesses to protect the environment. This program acknowledges the implementation of programs that use education, pollution prevention, and innovative approaches to meet and go beyond regulatory requirements. Wilson C.A.R.E.S. seeks to reduce the impact on the environment beyond measures required by any permit or rule, producing a better environment, conserving natural resources and resulting in long-term economic benefits to Wilson.

Wilson C.A.R.E.S. has seven categories of participation; Agricultural, Organization, Institution, Business, Government, Youth, and Individual. Each year the Wilson C.A.R.E.S. committee will recognize one outstanding recipient for each category for their contribution to protecting Wilson’s environment.

The recipients will be recognized at the County Commissioners meeting and the City Council meeting, as well as the Wilson C.A.R.E.S. website.

Nominations are accepted all year until December 1st. If you would like to nominate a group or individual to be recognized for their environmental stewardship please fill out and return the Wilson CARES nomination form.(PDF)

Meet our 2014 Wilson C.A.R.E.S. Award Recipients

Youth – Wilson 4H Envirothon Club

Wilson Cares youth
With help from their sponsor, AQWA, the 4-H club is involved in many service projects including Adopt-A-Stream, helping at the Bridgestone Wildlife Refuge Habitat, delivering environmental advocacy projects to local officials and participating and placing in the 2013 State Envirothon Competition. The group is the first repeat recipient of a Wilson CARES award after being recognized in the programs first year in 2012.

Institution – Barton College Science Club

Wilson Cares institution
The Barton College Science Club is recognized for their efforts to bring together students and volunteers to help clean up the site of the City of Wilson Educational Forest. This tremendous work helped to remove many bags of trash and debris, spread mulch along the trail, and beautify the site for the opening of the new trail.

Business – Harper Landscaping

Wilson Cares business
Harper Landscaping contributed to the development of the City of Wilson Educational Forest. The company efforts in the early days of February 2013 with the donation of manpower and materials helped the City meet handicap accessibility requirements of a crush and run walkway which helped facilitate the opening of the Educational Forest site located on Dendrology DR NE Wilson. Harper Landscaping was there in the beginning of the forest design assisting the city in original planting of the Phase One, Loop A tree-scape.

Agriculture – Carolyn & Tony Daniel Demonstration Farm

Wilson Cares agriculture
The farm has been instrumental in showing the 4th grade children of Wilson County the farm practices of yesterday and the environmental concerns of today. It introduced children to farm practices of today’s active farm as seen in its current setting along with sharing environmental concerns in and up close personal exposure to the farm and its forest and wetland and most of all its wildlife. The farm has been an active forest demonstration farm recognized by the NC State Forestry Service for just as many years. Initiating projects such as multiple tree seedlings planted of native variety species, controlled vegetative burns.

Individual – Herring – Sutton & Associates

Wilson Cares individual
Led by Ron Sutton, Herring- Sutton & Associates participated in the months leading up to the February 2013 forest grand opening by volunteering services pro bono in creating the technical drawing of a “Preliminary Plan” that met the all the specifications for Educational Forest to be accepted by the city Technical Review Committee as a valid flood plain project. The drawing efforts and donation of engineering expertise have shown a true commitment to the cities Educational Forest initiative as positive environmental impact to the Wilson community.

Government – Wilson County Solid Waste

Wilson Cares Government
In December 2012 Wilson County Solid Waste Department completed the construction of an 11,500 square foot building and the purchase of a tractor trailer. WCSWD now has a place to dump recycling material that is then loaded on the trailer and transported to Raleigh. All plastic bottles, cardboard, paper, magazines, aluminum cans, steel cans, etc. are being recycled. With the building and truck and trailer the county and city have saved the first year more than $30,000 in disposal cost. Before January 2013 it cost the county and city more to recycle than to landfill garbage. WCSW is working to recycle as much material as possible to lower costs for the residents and save the environment here in Wilson County.

Organization – St. Rose Church Women’s Fellowship

Wilson Cares Organization
The group participated in the City of Wilson’s Adopt-A-Street Program, adopting Douglas Street from Banks St. to Hines St. Their efforts to bring together volunteers, pick up trash, and improve the appearance of Wilson neighborhoods have made a visible difference in our community.

Peak Flow
During the review process a site plan is also examined for the sites ability to handle the potential “peak flow” of stormwater; meaning the greatest volume of water from a storm event at one time. The purpose of this is to keep new development from increasing flooding downstream. As land becomes more developed, the amount of stormwater that runs off into the streams is greater. By installing peak flow control devices such as a dry pond, the stormwater can be held on site and slowly released over time instead of all at once.All new development must meet Watershed Regulations and Neuse River Regulations if applicable to the project. The City Engineer or his/her designee will review all projects to determine compliance with all federal, state, and local stormwater regulations.
In addition:
1. All new development shall evaluate the stormwater impacts, created by their project, to off-site existing stormwater systems that receive runoff from the new development. These offsite systems may be open ditches, streams, or pipes.
a. The limits of the analysis shall be 500 feet downstream and to a point where the proposed development is 10% of the total watershed. Analysis shall also be conducted upstream to insure the proposed development does not use up all the existing capacity of the off-site system.
b. If the existing stormwater system(s) cannot handle the runoff from the proposed development, the development shall either:
i. Install on site stormwater controls (BMP’s) to reduce the peak flow.
ii. Upgrade the existing stormwater system to handle the increased flow.
c. All engineered stormwater solutions shall be evaluated by both the City Engineer and an outside consulting firm to determine whether the improvements meet the city’s requirements.
2. All culverts under city right-of-ways shall be designed using NCDOT design standards (minimum of25 year design storm).
3. All stormwater control structures shall be designed to reduce the peak flow (predevelopment)
by the following amounts:
1 & 2 year storms – 20% reduction in peak flow
10 & 25 year storms – 15% reduction in peak flow

Riparian Buffers

What is a Riparian Buffer?

  • Riparian Buffers are strips of trees and other vegetation along creeks that are critical to the health of our streams.
  • Buffers slow down and filter pollutants like oils and pesticides in the stormwater runoff.
  • Buffers help reduce erosion by holding the soil in place with plant roots and stems.
  • Clearing, grading, and building within a regulated buffer area may be restricted.

What Can I Do?

  • Call the City of Wilson Stormwater Division to determine if you have a buffered stream on your property.
  • Do not clear or cut trees within the first 30 feet from the stream.
  • Do not place any buildings or driveways within the first 50 feet from the stream without special authorization.
  • Plant seedlings and other native plants along the stream to further enhance or restore the buffer.