The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded both the City of Charlotte Storm Water Services and the Town of Morrisville with the regional 2017 EPA Rain Catcher Award in the Municipal Category. The City of Charlotte Storm Water Services won for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools South Park Watershed Enhancement Project, and the Town of Morrisville won for the Northwest Park Project. The awardees will be honored at a ceremony during the EPA Region 4/International Erosion Control Association Municipal Wet Weather Stormwater Conference in Charleston, S.C. on May 15, 2017.

 

The City of Charlotte Storm Water Services South Park Watershed Enhancement Project was designed to treat and remove pollutants from stormwater runoff to the Little Sugar Creek Watershed by implementing green infrastructure best management practices on a 36-acre public school campus in Charlotte, N.C. The project was comprised of five stormwater control measure (SCM) retrofit projects including two bio retention areas, an infiltration trench and a wet detention pond with a sand filter. The SCM retrofit projects helped improve water quality in the on-site creek, which is impaired for fecal coliform, turbidity and dissolved oxygen. In order to treat an area that is hard to access, an inverted siphon pipe is located under the creek to direct runoff from the area to the wet pond. In addition, the SCM retrofit projects are located in areas with permanent easements which facilitate long-term access for maintenance.

The Town of Morrisville created the Northwest Park Project to provide a new neighborhood playground and public recreation space. Low impact green infrastructure stormwater features included in the park design reduce peak flow rates and the total amount of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus leaving the site. The park includes a permeable playground and parking lot with large subsurface drainage fields, a 3,000-gallon rainwater‐harvesting cistern to capture roof runoff for landscape irrigation, and a series of infiltration beds and vegetated swales to treat runoff from an impervious walking trail. Educational signage in the park highlights watershed concepts and the park’s unique features to treat rainwater to improve local water quality.

The EPA Region 4 Rain Catcher Award recognizes excellence in the implementation of stormwater green infrastructure practices. Green infrastructure uses natural systems and/or engineered systems designed to mimic natural processes to more effectively manage stormwater and reduce receiving water impacts. EPA and its partner organizations have promoted the use of green infrastructure for many years as part of a comprehensive approach to achieving healthier waters. Green infrastructure reduces the volume of stormwater discharges by managing rainwater close to where it falls and removes many of the pollutants present in runoff, making it an effective strategy for addressing wet weather pollution and improving water quality.