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From Street to Stream

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg:

1) Rainwater that flows down our streets goes straight to our streams
2) Storm water runoff is not treated or cleaned

 Straight from our streets....       

    ....to our streams.

From the Street...............

..................To the Stream

Two Separate Systems 

Storm Drain vs. Sanitary Sewer ​ ​​

Storm Drainage System

Our storm drainage system uses one set of pipes. Excess rainwater flows into storm drains, then is piped directly into creeks. The water is not treated. The system was designed to quickly remove rainwater from streets, parking lots and other surfaces.

Sanitary Sewer System

Our sanitary sewers use a completely different set of pipes. Wastewater from toilets, showers and other plumbing travels through pipes to one of five Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department's sewage treatment plants. The wastewater is cleaned and must meet specific water quality standards before CMUD discharges it into creeks.

Illustrated guide to Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s three water systems: drinking water, wastewater and storm water

Understanding storm water
The problem

Rainwater is not the only thing going into our storm drainage system. Urban pollution such as: 
  • litter and trash
  • oil drippings and brake dust  
  • loose dirt
  • yard fertilizers
  • pet waste
  • chemicals
  • and other contaminants

is carried by storm water into storm drains, then is piped directly into creeks. Some people make things worse by dumping used motor oil, paint, car wash suds, or other chemicals down storm drains—which is illegal.

The result

Whatever was on our streets and parking lots winds up in our creeks, then our lakes. The pollution can choke aquatic life such as fish. Our streams and coves often look muddy when it rains. Property is eroded away. When people treat our storm drain system like a "sewer," it spoils our water quality and detracts from our quality of life.

The solution

Prevent pollution at the source!  Learn how

Maintain your drain​ - to reduce both water pollution and street flooding

Why isn't storm water treated to remove pollutants?