Stormwater runoff is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the nation and right here in North Carolina. While stormwater pollution impacts all regions of North Carolina, its effects on the coastal region of the state raise specific public health concerns. For example, a heavy rainfall event can impact whether certain water are open for shellfish harvesting and can even cause the closure of beaches when bacteriological standards exceed limits safe for swimming.
Rachel Noble, a professor with the Institute of Marine Sciences and the Institute for the Environment, is an expert in the effects of coastal stormwater. Her past research in this area has included the development of rapid water quality test methods to improve the protection of public health.
In 2015 Dr. Noble, with funding from NC Sea Grant, organized a number of state and local environmental officials, research scientists, and environmental consultants to form the Mid Atlantic Stormwater Stakeholder Task Force. The Task Force’s charge is to improve stormwater management along the mid-Atlantic coastal region by:
- sharing information to protect the public health;
- improving remedial strategies; and
- promoting successful regulatory compliance.
One of the critical benefits of this collaboration is that it allows for local governments along the coast in North Carolina and Virginia to share lessons learned and highlight best management practices in mitigating stormwater.
As the calendars turns to 2016 the Task Force’s first order of business will be exploring the development of a regional database that will increase the sharing of information and better inform decision-making by local and state planning and environment officials.