SWANSBORO— While most parking lots are designed to get the rain off site as quickly as possible, the Town of Swansboro and the North Carolina Coastal Federation have partnered to install a parking lot at Town Hall that will actually let stormwater soak into the ground.

The new public parking lot, located between Town Hall and the public safety building, will provide parking for the town and nearby businesses and restaurants.

“The Town of Swansboro would like to thank the Coastal Federation for their assistance and support in the development of a project that provides much-needed parking yet allows for the town to be environmentally sound by collecting runoff from not only the new section of parking but existing impervious surface as well,” said Town Manager Scott Chase.

This parking lot is the first of several projects planned to help implement the Swansboro’s watershed restoration plan with funding from the EPA Section 319 grant program. The restoration plan which was approved in 2017, sets a framework for reducing runoff targeting the Halls Creek, Ward/Hawkins Creek, Foster Creek, Hammocks Creek and Historic Creek watersheds.

“What we’re trying to do with the watershed restoration plan is reduce the volume of stormwater being generated and turn back the clock on water pollution and improve water quality,” said Lauren Kolodij, deputy director with the federation.

The parking lot project is an example of how development can be done in a way that also benefits coastal waterways and accomplishes the goals of the town’s watershed restoration plan.

“This project pairs a major capital improvement project with the town’s dedication to improving water quality in the White Oak River,” said Bree Charron, coastal specialist with the federation. “We’re excited to help the town showcase how development, like the much-needed parking in Swansboro, can be accomplished without increasing stormwater loads to nearby waters. We do this by giving it the space to infiltrate.”

Stormwater is the biggest polluter of coastal waters. Swansboro’s plan focuses on ways to reduce stormwater runoff throughout the town by implementing targeted retrofit projects. The parking lot and future projects will focus on reducing the volume of runoff with techniques that emphasize stormwater infiltration and reuse.

This new parking lot connects the two buildings. It includes sections with pervious paver grids that have been filled with rock and allows rain to soak through. The lot was designed by Coastal Stormwater Services, Inc. and was constructed by Task Contracting.

More information on stormwater runoff reduction projects is available at nccoast.org/stormwater.