Making Your Neighborhood More 'Green' with Stormwater Management
In September, Raleigh City Council approved a text change to the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that makes it easier for developers to include green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in land development. This allows developers to more efficiently use a development site by putting in place stormwater management practices that capture, absorb, and store rainwater that otherwise would go to storm drains and local waterways.
What Does This Mean?
If you’ve built a new home or seen a commercial property built in your neighborhood, you may have noticed how developed land changes. When a site is developed it is no longer mostly pervious, or in a state that allows rainwater to fully soak into the ground, which limits flooding and cleans the water before it goes to streams. Instead, the impervious area added to a site, like buildings, roofs, roads, and driveways, makes it more difficult for rainwater to soak in to the ground. The stormwater runoff that comes off of these surfaces then goes to local waterways and has significant environmental impacts. By using GSI practices, developers offset these impacts and reduce pollution to streams and lakes in Raleigh.
The ‘Green’ Factor
Developers have several options to meet stormwater management requirements when building on your property, which allow more rainwater to be absorbed and stored on a development site. This in turn produces less stormwater runoff.
With the text change to the City’s UDO, certain trees and shrubs can now be planted in yards and parking lots for landscaping and stormwater management purposes. Plantings also can be added to the City’s right-of-way to capture stormwater runoff coming from streets. This allows for more available land area on your property, provides more flexibility in your property’s design, lowers construction costs, and reduces pressures on traditional stormwater practices (like storm drain pipes, ditches, and wet ponds).
Speak with your contractor or developer about the GSI options available for the stormwater management practices required on your property. For example, you can:
- Install a rain garden, green roof, and/or cistern to capture, store, and reuse stormwater;
- Use permeable pavement instead of traditional pavement in a parking lot or driveway; and,
- Disconnect downspouts from storm drains and streets and direct stormwater runoff to a planted area so that it doesn’t go directly to the storm drain system and local waterways.
Questions about these stormwater management practices can be directed to 919-996-3940 or RaleighStormwater@raleighnc.gov.
This article was originally printed in the Stormwater Management Division's Urban Watersheds publication. Subscribe to learn more and to receive stormwater-related news.