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  HOME »  STORMWATER PROGRAM »  Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is stormwater?
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Stormwater is rainfall or melted snow that runs off impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, streets, sidewalks, and parking lots. Impervious, or hard, surfaces prevent the stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground, where the soil would filter out pollutants. As it flows, stormwater picks up pollutants from these surfaces. Common pollutants include vehicle exhaust products, brake and tire dust, oil and grease, sediment, salt, fertilizers and pesticides, pet waste, and litter. Because stormwater is untreated, these pollutants enter our waterways.


How does stormwater affect me and my family?
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Polluted stormwater runoff is a leading cause of impairment to almost 40% of water bodies in the United States that do not meet water quality standards. When left uncontrolled, this water pollution can result in the destruction of habitats for fish, wildlife, and aquatic life; a loss in aesthetic value; and threats to public health because of contaminated food, drinking water, and recreational waterways.


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You can be part of the solution to stormwater pollution by making a few changes in your everyday life. To see how you can help, slosh on over to "What's my connection?"


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The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System(NPDES) Stormwater Program is a comprehensive water pollution reduction program that addresses stormwater discharges that impair the quality of our nation's waters. Stormwater-regulated entities must obtain coverage under an NPDES stormwater permit and implement stormwater management programs to effectively manage and reduce the discharge of pollutants into local water bodies. Best management practices (BMPs) are methods (structural and nonstructural) developed to lessen the impact of stormwater on the environment.


What are NPDES Phase I and Phase II?
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Phase I, established in 1990, regulated stormwater discharges for three types of activities: ten (10) categories of industrial facilities, construction activities that disturb five (5) or more acres of land, and municipal systems that serve populations of 100,000 people or more.

Phase II, which became law in 1999, requires smaller communities and operators of construction activities that disturb one (1) to five (5) acres of land to reduce the discharge of pollutants, protect water quality, and satisfy the requirements of the Clean Water Act.


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Phase II regulations require that permittees follow the following six minimum stormwater control measures:
  1. Public Education and Outreach
  2. Public Participation and Involvement
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  4. Construction Site Runoff Control
  5. Post-Construction Runoff Control
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
NCDOT's Phase I permit includes all of the above requirements as well as an additional requirement to implement BMP retrofits.


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Since 1970, NCDOT has been addressing stormwater pollution through the Department's sediment and erosion control program. In 1998, NCDOT established the Highway Stormwater Program (HSP) to address other pollutants and sources associated with stormwater runoff. NCDOT uses structural and nonstructural best management practices (BMPs) to manage and reduce pollutants carried in stormwater. For more information, slosh on over to the section entitled NPDES Stormwater Permit.


Why does NCDOT need stormwater permits?
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NCDOT is required to have stormwater permits for the following reasons:
  1. NCDOT owns and operates a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4).
  2. NCDOT is involved in construction that disturbs land.
  3. NCDOT maintains industrial facilities.


What state and federal agencies regulate stormwater?
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Stormwater is an important issue throughout North Carolina. Under the direction of the Environmental Management Commission, the following Department of Environment and Natural Resources Divisions regulate stormwater: Division of Coastal Management, Division of Land Resources, and Division of Water Quality. The US Environmental Protection Agency has delegated NPDES stormwater compliance responsibility to NCDENR.


Where can I go for more information on the subject?
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See our section entitled Hot Links for more information about stormwater and permitting.



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