Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services keeps its eye on the drainage system


This post is brought to you in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services. All opinions are our own

If you’re like me, you’ll be shocked to hear the Charlotte area gets more rain than Seattle, and in fewer days. (Well, maybe not after this particular year, but in general — it was surprising.) So where does it all go? The simple answer is the storm drainage system takes it away.

What is stormwater?

It’s simply rainwater that doesn’t soak into the ground. It runs off hard surfaces like paved streets, parking lots, sidewalks and rooftops. There’s more than 2.2 billion square feet of this kind of impervious surface in Charlotte, resulting in a lot of runoff that flows into the storm drainage system.

What’s a storm drainage system?

Well, it’s all around and underneath us. It’s a network of storm drain inlets and underground pipes that carry stormwater from our streets to local streams. It’s quietly functioning in the background. But it’s critical to our community. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services repairs storm drainage infrastructure to reduce flood risks and protect the traveling public.

Aging Infrastructure

Across the country, people are talking about aging infrastructure and how our choices today will shape our future. It’s important we think about and invest in storm drainage infrastructure that’s critical to our communities. In Charlotte, there’s more than 2,000 miles of open drainage, ditches and streams, more than 150,000 storm drain inlets, and over 3,500 miles of stormwater pipes. If you laid the pipes end-to-end they would reach from here to Los Angeles. Nothing lasts forever, so Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services is working to repair and improve public storm drainage infrastructure across the city. At any given time, they’re working on more than 400 improvement projects in our community.

How you can help

Stormwater is not cleaned at a treatment plant, so it’s important to remember only rain should go into a storm drain, and never pollutants or debris. You can help personally by reporting drainage concerns and stormwater pollution to 3-1-1. Or when a storm drain gets clogged with leaves, grass clippings, trash and other debris you can help in a few easy steps:

  1. Check it
  2. Clear it if you can, or
  3. Call to report a blockage to 3-1-1.

And if you already clear a storm drain near your home — thank you, on behalf of our whole community.

I’m in awe of this system within and underneath our city and how it all works together. We have all kinds of ways we can help on a personal level, whether by watching and reporting, or finding ways to get more involved, directly. As for me, the next time I’m driving in the rain and see water rushing down a storm drain and away from the street, I’m going to thank the unsung infrastructure. 


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