Working towards environmental restoration through small scale engagement in coastal North Carolina
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Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a pervasive problem throughout the United States. In coastal North Carolina, NPS most commonly takes the form of stormwater carrying large quantities of bacteria into neighboring estuarine waterways. Elevated levels of bacteria can have significant effects on water quality and result in area closures for commercial shellfish harvesting. This masters project investigates stormwater retrofitting potential in a small coastal neighborhood located within the White Oak River watershed. Applying Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to estimate impervious surface and model stormwater runoff, a mixed method approach is used to better evaluate areas of concern within a subwatershed of the White Oak River. In analyzing both state-level stormwater management guidelines and interviewing local residents on their perceptions of water quality, a goal of this study is to determine what considerations are needed to guide current and future stormwater projects. The results of this study indicate that the current stormwater regulatory framework operates on a temporal scale that hinders comprehensive funding, implementation, and monitoring of Best Management Practices (BMP) retrofitting projects. Modifications on the subwatershed level highlight impervious surface coverage from development may be significantly increasing sheet stormwater runoff. Qualitative findings demonstrate the educational outreach could be useful in gaining community support for future BMP projects. Further research in applying participatory mixed methods to study local stormwater may provide greater stakeholder engagement and successful implementation of low-cost BMPs in continuing efforts of water quality improvement.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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