The hard surfaces of parking lots usually contribute to polluted stormwater runoff and flooding by collecting rain and directing it to storm drains. But a new project at UNC-Wilmington funded by the EPA Section 319 program is reversing this course and reducing runoff.

Engineering firm Coastal Stormwater Services, Inc. worked with the Coastal Federation to design and complete a project to remove over 4,730 sq.ft. of asphalt from UNCW’s parking lot EE and replace it with permeable paving. Sections of the asphalt lot around select drop inlets were sawcut, removed and taken to a local asphalt plant for recycling. The stalls were then replaced with permeable pavement. The retrofitted parking stalls are doing their job by allowing rain infiltration into the ground before it reaches the storm drain. The stalls now soak in about 163,000 gallons of rain for a 3.6-inch rain event.  

“Since I was a student, I’ve always felt a sense of commitment to protect what brought me here, the water. From a birds-eye view, UNCW stands as one of the last lines of defense before Bradley Creek. Working with Coastal Federation and other community partners to reduce stormwater has been a dream come true!” said Kat Pohlman, UNCW’s chief sustainability officer.

The Coastal Federation, UNCW and the City of Wilmington’s Heal Our Waterways initiative and New Hanover Soil and Water Conservation partnered on the stormwater reduction project in the Bradley Creek Watershed to help implement the local watershed restoration plan. UNCW is the largest landowner in this watershed and a key partner in restoration efforts.