Pine Knoll Shores and the North Carolina Coastal Federation are designing an innovative stormwater project that will preserve water quality and reduce flooding in the coastal town.
Since 2014, Pine Knoll Shores has addressed flooding that occurs on the east side of town. The high water table combined with an increase of roads, driveways, and other impervious surfaces has reduced the amount of rainfall that soaks into the ground after major rainfall events.
“We have a series of pumps right now that help alleviate some of the stormwater, and we refer to that as Phase one,” said Sarah Williams, town clerk for Pine Knoll Shores.
Williams said water from flooded areas is pumped directly into nearby Bogue Sound.
"That water is contaminated and it's picked up the septic tank and the road waste, all of those things. So we were looking at a way to alleviate some of that flooding and filter it out before it hit the sounds,” said Williams.
The town received a $259,000 grant from N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund for phase two of stormwater improvements. The project includes installation of a series of pumps and underground pipes that can draw down the water table before an impending storm. Phase two enhances the capabilities of the first phase, allowing the town to temporarily hold stormwater in golf course ponds that drain into a sand filter disguised as a sand trap.
“We’re trying to decrease the instances that the town has to bring out those pumps and discharge directly to our waterways,” said Bree Charron, a coastal specialist with the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
Charron said stormwater is the number one source of pollution in coastal North Carolina, carrying bacteria, heavy metals, sediment, and other contaminants into nearby waterways during storms.
“Before development, all this water would have naturally moved through the environment or moved slowly toward the sound,” Charron said. “But now that we’ve introduced all these roadways, pipes, and ditches, that water is moving much more quickly to the sound and dumping all those pollutants with it.”
The project is part of Pine Knoll Shores’ watershed restoration plan approved this year by the N.C. Division of Water Resources. A final stormwater system design should be complete this winter with construction beginning in late 2020.