oak island

Simple roadside swale on public street.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation, in cooperation with the Town of Oak Island and the Oak Island Citizens’ Environmental Advisory Committee, is undertaking a community project to reduce the flow of polluted stormwater into the creeks and sounds around Oak Island. The project involves the construction of low-cost, relatively simple swales and vegetated landscapes, such as shallow earthen berms as well as modifying existing swales to make them slightly deeper or wider.

These minor changes can make a positive difference in protecting water quality, by directing polluted stormwater runoff into the sandy street-side swales to soak into the ground rather than flowing over streets and into pipes that drain directly into the swimming, fishing and boating waters that surround Oak Island. The project is designed to reduce the amount of polluted stormwater entering the shell fishing waters around Oak Island by at least 200,000 gallons during an average 24-hour rainfall. This project will provide a working model for how to further retrofit existing roads within Oak Island and other coastal towns to improve water quality.

Pervious pavers allow rainwater to soak through, and can replace traditional pavement for parking

Pervious pavers allow rainwater to soak through, and can replace traditional pavement for parking

In addition to constructing the street-side swales, the federation and the Town of Oak Island have joined forces to engage the community and build support and participation in the project. This includes an enthusiastic volunteer monitoring group who will document the effectiveness of the swales during storms. This project also provides educational resources for property owners seeking to include other low-cost measures, such as rain gardens into home landscaping to help keep our creeks and sounds clean and natural. Information about these measures can be found within the Smart Yards brochure. The federation can also provide additional information and resources to interested homeowners.

Funding for the project was provided by a generous grant from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (Division of Water Resources). Tours of the Oak Island project and other stormwater initiatives in the Lockwoods Folly watershed are being planned for November 2015 and spring 2016. Details about these upcoming events will be posted in our events calendar.