Plan offers resilience solutions for roadways, buildings, farms and communities


River Bluffs

The lovely aesthetics of River Bluffs in Castle Hayne, N.C. result from nature-based stormwater design being incorporated throughout the site. These stormwater measures help make it a walkable park-like neighborhood while preventing flooding and protecting water quality. Photo By: River Bluffs Development Corp

Ocean, N.C. – On the heels of 2020 becoming North Carolina’s second wettest year ever, the North Carolina Coastal Federation is releasing a plan to address more frequent and intense rain events that cause communities to flood, and pollute waterways across the state.

The Action Plan for Nature-based Stormwater Strategies is based on input from over 60 experts from across business and government sectors and regions. These stakeholder work groups recommended ways to enhance the use of natural and nature-based solutions that absorb rainwater and reduce flooding – like planting rain gardens and restoring wetlands.

“Opportunities for practical, affordable and effective nature-based stormwater strategies are missed in planning and management decisions in communities, roadways, forests and farms,” said Todd Miller, executive director of the federation. “When we seize these opportunities routinely to reduce flooding and protect water quality there will be many positive economic and environmental rewards for the whole state.”

The plan presents a few key recommendations to maximize nature-based solutions. First, state and local governments should lead by example using nature-based solutions in most publicly funded projects. A statewide watershed management framework should inform and coordinate these state and local projects. To support these outcomes, relevant non-profits, state leaders, professional societies and colleges and universities must make a coordinated effort to expand education and training offerings about nature-based strategies, targeting both practitioners and decision makers. The action plan also recommends the formation of a standing steering committee of stakeholders and experts to inform and advocate for state and local progress in implementing nature-based solutions.

“No discussion on a more resilient North Carolina is complete without addressing flooding while also improving water quality. The recommendations provided in the Action Plan for Nature-Based Stormwater Strategies form a practical and innovative path forward that encourages integrated planning with a focus on ensuring our communities and the state are more resilient in the future” said Chief Deputy Secretary John Nicholson of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

These natural approaches have already been shown to be effective and economical across the state from farms in Hyde County and River Bluffs subdivision in New Hanover County to shopping centers like the Market at Colonnade Center in Raleigh and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in western North Carolina. The federation’s website highlights projects like these to help other communities plan and replicate these strategies.

“The Action Plan is a blueprint for reducing stormwater runoff and flooding,” said Yaron Miller, an officer with the flood-prepared communities project at The Pew Charitable Trusts, which supported the plan’s development. “It charts a path for North Carolina’s state leaders, communities, and practitioners to use natural solutions statewide, from neighborhoods and main streets to working lands and highways.”

Access press packet with additional information here. This link includes the complete plan, executive summary, fact sheets featuring quotes and statewide examples, a sub-group listing of Action Plan Work Group Members and experts for potential interview and photos.

About the North Carolina Coastal Federation

The North Carolina Coastal Federation is a nonprofit membership organization that works to keep the coast of North Carolina a great place to live, work and play. Through a variety of programs and partnerships, the federation provides for clean coastal waters and habitats, advocates to protect the coast and teaches and informs people about the coast and what they can do to protect it. The federation has offices in Ocean, Wanchese and Wrightsville Beach, N.C. To learn more, please visit or call 252-393-8185.