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Did you know... Water That Flows Into A Storm Drain Goes Right To Our Streams!


What is the WPCOG Stormwater Program?

Most municipalities in North Carolina are required to have something called a “National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES)” Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Permit under the Clean Water Act. The goal for these permits is to limit the amount of water pollutants generated by the town itself, and its residents. The WPCOG is contracted to fully handle these permits for 10 different municipalities in our region: The City of Lenoir, City of Conover, City of Newton, and the towns of Granite Falls, Cajah’s Mountain, Hudson, Sawmills, Gamewell, Rutherford College, and Valdese. We are also contracted to handle stormwater outreach for Morganton, Hickory, and Maiden. Including all of our contracts that is serving over 130,000 Residents in our region within 136 Square Miles!


Where Does Stormwater Runoff Pollution Come From?

An impervious surface is a type of surface where water cannot be absorbed, these surfaces include: asphalt, concrete, buildings, and even most forms of gravel. As runoff goes across these surfaces it picks up speed and carries whatever is present on the surface itself. Stormwater runoff is not clean water. These impervious areas have buildups of things like: Oil from leaking vehicles, heavy metals from brake pad dust, sediment/dirt from construction or loose grassy areas, and other unnatural elements that harm stream quality. Another issue caused by this is the runoff will not be able to slow down on these impervious surfaces, which leads to erosion throughout the region and damages our streambanks. This becomes an issue from for a few reasons ​

  1. As we expand and build more through our city we replace pervious surface (grass, dirt, natural areas where water can infiltrate back into the ground) with impervious ones, which increases the amount of runoff from every storm. Less water goes back into the ground and has to be directed back into the streams.

  2. This leads to a higher pollutant load going into our streams. This increases the costs of treating our drinking water. Some people will dump additional pollutants directly into the storm drain, which can cause other issues such as:

    • RVs dumping septic lines leading to algal blooms from extra nutrients

    • Dumped soaps, paints, and chemicals can create toxic environments for fish, leading to fish kills (which often come with hefty fines)

    • Litter and trash that is dumped into ditches or storm inlets can float into streams and cause issues such as limiting water flow or leaching pollutants

  3. These impervious surfaces do not slow the runoff down like natural areas would, this leads to stream/riverbanks getting blown out or damaged. Due to the cascading effect, this results in lower quality water that limits fishing potential or harming the aesthetic value of rivers and lakes in our area. As a result this can devalue property, harm tourism, reduce fishing income, and damages the intrinsic values of our waterways. 

    • This does not just impact waterways, but even just your yard can be harmed by high velocity stormwater.

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Become a stormwater volunteer with Western Piedmont Council of Governments! Help keep our waterways healthy and clean.

​​In some cases pollutants reach water ways due to the actions of individuals. Dumping pollutants into ditches and storm drains is the same as dumping them directly into the stream, and is called an Illicit Discharge


Did you know... Water That Flows Into A Storm Drain Goes Right To Our Streams!


Believe it or not, a storm drain actually feeds water directly back into our lakes, rivers, and streams (the source of our drinking water) without going through treatment to remove debris and other pollutants.

Stormwater doesn’t get treated like greywater (drinking water, wastewater, etc.) due to the massive volume of water that can fall during a storm event. For example, 1 inch of rainfall on 1 acre of land generates over 27,000 gallons of water. It’s not really feasible to store and treat that much water in addition to our drinking water.

Therefore, anything you dump into a storm drain affects the ecosystem and water quality of our natural waterways, and in turn, our own physical health.

Dumping chemicals and waste into your storm drain also hurts your wallet. Cleaning up costs resources, time and money. It also requires more treatment of our drinking water and increases infrastructure costs.​


Common Stormwater Pollutants:

  • Pet Waste

  • Paint

  • Litter

  • Sediment

  • Yard Waste (leaves, grass)

  • Fertilizer

  • Pesticide

  • Motor Oil, Fuel, Grease

If you have a Stormwater issue, want to report an illicit discharge, or have a question, please click the link below.


Read product labels and use only as directed. Store pesticides in a covered area and in sealed waterproof containers. Never apply before it rains.



Do not discharge chlorinated or salt water into storm drains. Dechlorinate the water and direct it into your yard, which works as a natural filter for waterborne pollutants, and can help keep your yard watered.



Keep sidewalks, curbs, and
gutters in your neighborhood clean by disposing of litter.
Brushing built up leaves off of storm drains can help reduce the risk of flooding too.

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Wash your car in a grassed area so that the soil can filtered the water. If you wash in your car on the driveway, direct water runoff toward the grass and ensure that it is not going into the street or a storm drain.



Use water-based paints whenever possible. Clean brushes in the sink, not outside (sink water is treated, stormwater is not!). Have oil changes done at a service facility or take your used oil to a neighborhood auto parts store to be properly disposed.



When you can, purchase non-toxic products. Store maintenance equipment and products inside or under cover. Properly dispose of hazardous waste. Check for community hazardous waste collection days or events



Take a plastic bag with you when walking pets to collect any waste. Dispose pet waste in the trash, do not rinse waste into curbs, sidewalks, or street drains.



Control erosion on your property by keeping healthy plants or mulching over exposed areas. Cover piles of dirt, sand, or gravel to prevent it from washing into storm drains.



Collect yard debris (such as grass clippings and leaves) and dispose of it properly or leave them on your yard as a natural fertilizer. Do not blow or hose yard waste into the street. You can also compost yard debris to create your own organic fertilizer for garden beds.

What is an illicit Discharge?

An illicit discharge is when any substance other than stormwater is put into the stormwater system. An illicit connection is any connection of wastewater into the stormwater system. An example of this might be a connection from a bathroom or a washing machine that is dumping into a storm drain/sewer/ditch. An accidental spill or leak of an unsafe substance is also an illicit discharge. Examples of illicit discharges: Paint spills, Soapy wash water, Fuel spills, Sewage overflows, Grease dumping, Sediment runoff from construction, Or even dumping yard waste (such as grass clippings) down a storm drain.


How to Report Stormwater Pollution

One of the most important things you can do as a citizen is to report any stormwater pollution you see. We have an Online Reporting Tool available for use on this webpage. Additionally reports can also be sent to, or leave a voicemail at 828.485.4222 (for fastest response times please use reporting tool or email). Photographic evidence of the discharge is crucial for us to be able to take any enforcement actions, so if any photos can be taken during the discharge please provide them to the stormwater admin at the above email.


Outreach, Education, and Public Involvement

The Outreach and Public Involvement portion of the Stormwater Department aims to educate residents, businesses, and organizations in the region about stormwater and how to best protect water quality. Most people are unaware that storm drains deposit directly into our region’s rivers, lakes and streams. In order to help keep the water quality levels high, education and public involvement can be an important tool to ensure the public understands their role in this matter.  


The efforts are twofold. First, WPCOG staff provides an educational booth at community events such as farmer’s markets and festivals with brochures, informational graphics and children’s activities to help teach about stormwater and how it affects our water quality in the region. Second, through multiple volunteer programs such as Stream Clean-Ups, Storm Drain Stenciling or Adopt-A-Stream hosted by WPCOG or in partnership with other organizations, the public has the opportunity to be a part of stormwater management and learn more about what can be done to help the community. Please reach out to for more information regarding any outreach, education and public involvement questions.  



As a permit requirement, each municipality must provide the opportunity for citizens to have input on the stormwater program, and we would also love to have input from our concerned citizens. To do this we have created a survey! If you would like to suggest a stream cleanup location or give your input on the program as a whole please fill out a survey at this link:


Flooding/Homeowner Concerns

Municipalities are responsible for maintaining right of way drainage on streets they maintain (not state/county owned or privately owned), drainage issues on private properties are typically civil issues between property owners. Additionally most municipalities (and contracted parties such as the WPCOG) only have jurisdiction over water quality issues, not water quantity issues.


We are frequently requested by homeowners to inspect private properties to look at drainage issues. We can provide some broad recommendations but are not able to give specific contractor recommendations or suggestions to major structural modifications or repairs due to the liability involved. The typical recommendation is for the homeowner to hire a contractor or landscape architect to modify their properties drainage to handle the additional and/or changed water flow. Runoff issues between private properties must be handled by the owners of said properties unless there is a provable illicit discharge (and even then, our jurisdiction is just over the illicit discharge).


For Developers, Contractors, and Engineers Regarding Post-Construction and SCM inspections:

For Annual SCM Inspection forms:


Any questions regarding Phase II permitting should be sent to Haleigh Hopkins | Any project within our jurisdiction requires a Stormwater Permit Application to be provided to the Stormwater Administrator. A link to the WPCOG Stormwater Permit Applications can be found below. Rutherford College, Conover, Newton have differing permit fees and thus individual permit applications, all other municipalities use the base WPCOG Stormwater Application. A fact sheet covering the more general Post-Construction regulations and documentation requirements can be found below.


Documents Required for High Density Permit

  • Stormwater Permit Application  

  • Site Plan  

  • Escrow Maintenance/Letter of Credit  

  • Operation & Maintenance Agreement & Manual  

  • NCDEQ Operation and Maintenance "ez" tool, direct link here

  • Certificate of Completion & Record of Construction  

  • Access of Easement

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