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Drainage Maintenance & Homeowner Tips

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Sweeper TruckStreet Sweeping
The Town's  Stormwater Maintenance Program routinely sweeps streets to remove debris and pollutants before they enter the storm drain system.  Street sweeping helps to keep storm drains clear to prevent flooding, reduces the amount of litter entering our streams and Jordan Lake, and helps water quality by removing sediment, vehicle dust, and debris along streets. 

Storm Drain Maintenance & Repair
The program staff also clear, repair and maintain stormwater drains.  You can help by preventing and picking up litter, properly preparing trash and yard waste, keeping leaves and grass clippings out of the streets, ditches and storm drains, and reporting clogged drains well in advance of storms.


Severin St projectDrainage Assistance Projects
In addition to providing technical advice for drainage problems, the Town's Stormwater Management operations program staff collaborates with property owners on projects to solve problems caused by stormwater runoff from public streets: drainage pipe repair or replacement, drainage ditch grading and clearing, and erosion control improvements. Drainage assistance projects typically include an agreement with the property owner under which the Town provides design, equipment, and labor services and the property owner pays for the necessary materials. Projects are prioritized (low, moderate, high) based on criteria including safety, property damage, frequency of flooding, number of properties affected and design feasibility.

Homeowner Tips

There are many ways homeowners or landscapers can reduce the amount of runoff from their properties and manage what they have. Keep in mind that for every inch of rainfall, 623 gallons of water run off of 1,000 sq ft of impervious surface.  Impervious surfaces include roofs, sidewalks, driveways, roads, and parking areas.

If earth moving or work along streams is involved, a permit may be needed. Please check with a Stormwater engineer before beginning work. Call 919-969-RAIN.

Compost BinCompost!
Composting is a solid waste reduction effort as well as a way to enhance gardens and lawns. But did you know that compost is very important in controlling stormwater and pollutants? Compost "socks" are effective at erosion control and filtering runoff during construction or maintenance projects, while rejuvenating yards with compost after construction will dramatically lower runoff volume due to improved water holding capacity, healthy vegetation/biomass, and increased infiltration.
Home Composting       U.S. Composting Council
Poster: Composting Enhances Soil and Protects Watersheds

Maintain Streamside (Riparian) Buffers Vegetation along waterways is necessary to protect water from stormwater runoff that carries pollutants, nutrients and sediment. Local and state buffer rules apply to streams.
Buffers for Clean Water
Haw River Riparian Native Plant List    Avoid Southeast Exotic Invasive Plants
Riparian Vegetation Resource List(Vendors)
NC Riparian Buffer Protection Program


Disconnect 209 N. ColumbiaYour Downspouts
A downspout is a vertical pipe used to drain rainwater from a roof. If your home's downspouts are piped into the stormwater system or a creek, or if downspouts empty onto pavement, you can help reduce the quantity of water flowing downstream during storms, and help regenerate ground water by redirecting them into your yard.  See howdownspout-redirection

Rain gardens, landscaped areas, rain barrels or cisterns can help temporarily retain or absorb water. Rock dissipators or splash pads will spread out, slow down and help infiltrate runoff from your roof.  Please note that it is important for your stormwater management options and yard conditions to allow the volume of water in heavy storms to be accommodated. Improper downspout disconnection could cause you or your neighbors wet basements, flooding, or erosion. Make sure that redirected drain outlets are at least five feet from your home's foundation and well inside of your property set back lines.


Downspout ChannelRock Dissipaters, Channels, Splash Pads
There are many creative ways that homeowners can disconnect their downspouts to infiltrate roof runoff on their property, whether it is to create a channel leading to a rain garden or landscaped area, or to install artistic waterfall-like steps.
Leaf splash block
Town of Chapel Hill Standard Details may be embellished:
Rock Splash Pad 
Splash Block
Riprap Channels



Backyard Rain GardenRain Gardens
Backyard rain gardens are considered landscaping projects and can vary from small and simple to elaborate. Rain gardens are shallow depressions designed to intercept, treat, and infiltrate stormwater before it runs off into neighbors' yards, storm drains or waterways.  Rain gardens in the Piedmont area typically will require amendments to clay soil for better drainage.  Plants used in rain gardens are native to the region and help retain pollutants that could otherwise harm nearby waterways. More


Rain Barrels or Cisterns
Since 623 gallons flow off of 1,000 square feet of impervious surface for every inch of rainfall, many homeowners opt for several rain barrels linked together or a larger cistern to capture as much runoff as possible.  Using stored rainwater helps to conserve use of treated municipal water for irrigation and outdoor washing, and allows stormwater to slowly return to the ground.   Keep overflow hoses at least five feet from the house foundation.  Resources and products are available online as well as in local garden stores.  Maintenance guide



Backyarstream_repair_photod (Small) Stream Repair
Always check with Stormwater Management staff (919-969-RAIN) before planning stream repairs to comply with permit requirements and to avoid costly mistakes.  Stream classifications will be necessary before any work other than planting vegetation begins. Leaving at least 15' of vegetation along the water's edge helps to stabilize banks and requires no work.  Regrading banks to a 3:1 slope (permit may be needed) will help to stabilize the stream banks, establish vegetation to the water's edge, and reduce further erosion of the stream channel. 
                                                Small-scale Solutions to Eroding Streambanks (NC Cooperative Extension)
                                                NCSU Workshops for Backyard Stream Repair, Erosion Control & Rain Garden Installation








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