Visit us in Wrightsville Beach for a walking tour of our stormwater reduction projects and check out the ways we help to keep your local waterways clean.

How does stormwater affect our community?

Stormwater runoff is the No. 1 polluter of our coastal creeks and sounds. Rainwater flows over hard surfaces picking up bacteria and pollutants along the way.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation teamed up with the Town of Wrightsville Beach and other partners to build low-impact development projects around the John Nesbitt Loop. While on the Walk the Loop for Clean Water trail, you’ll see how simple techniques reduce polluted stormwater runoff, which protects and restores water quality in the coastal waters we all love. Many of these techniques can be installed in your yard or place of business!


#1 | The walking tour begins at the North Carolina Coastal Federation Fred and Alice Stanback Coastal Education Center.

Walk around the center and you will learn about the many techniques that you can use in your yard or place of business, such as:

  • A rain garden with native plants that capture stormwater so it soaks into the ground.
  • Permeable paving and walkways that let the rain soak in instead of running off.
  • Cisterns and rain barrels that collect rain as a free source of water for later use.


#2 | As you walk the loop along W. Salisbury Street between the Education Center and Municipal Lane, look to your left.

stop2Notice the streets-side swales and small earthen dams. A swale is a water storing ditch built into the landscape. The swale and dams slow down stormwater so it can soak into the ground and not reach the adjacent waters of Lee’s Cut.

#3 | As you walk past the intersection of Municipal Lane and W. Salisbury Street, look to your left.

This rain garden collects and absorbs stormwater that previously drained straight through pipes and into the adjacent waters. This area is planted with native plants and turf that soak up rainwater and prevent runoff.


#4 | As the Loop turns east and intersects with the outbound lane of Causeway Drive, look across the street to the grassy swale between the inbound and outbound lanes of Causeway Drive.

stop4With a slight change to the landscaping and the addition of two curb cuts and a raised drain, runoff is directed from Causeway Drive into the grassy median. This prevents polluted road runoff from reaching the storm drains and the nearby waters of Motts Channel.

#5 | In just a few steps, look along the outbound lane of Causeway Drive and notice the three drains along the road/sidewalk.

stop5These are reversed stormwater inlets that divert polluted roadway runoff to soak into the grassed area between Causeway Drive and the Arboretum instead of flowing through pipes into Motts Channel.

#6 | Turn on Bob Sawyer Drive to reach the Wrightsville Beach Public Safety Building.

Under this building, five 3,000-gallon cisterns capture and reuse stormwater from the roof. This water is reused to water landscaping and ballfields and wash fire and police department vehicles and equipment.


#7 | Keep walking on Bob Sawyer Drive, which ends at the Wrightsville Beach Recreation Area parking lot.

stop7This lot features the removal of two 40′ x 40′ asphalt areas that were replaced with sections of pervious pavement. These small areas can now absorb and infiltrate much of the polluted runoff from the parking lot, protecting the nearby creeks and streams.

From this stop, it is a short walk on the path next to the tennis courts back to the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Education Center.

Learn more

Learn how to apply these simple solutions to stormwater pollution to your backyard with our online guide, Smart Yards.

Our Partners

Support and funding for this educational website was made possible by:

  • Town of Wrightsville Beach
  • City of Wilmington
  • N.C. Department of Transportation
  • N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources
  • N.C. Division of Coastal Management
  • N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Shellfish Sanitation Section
  • N.C. Cooperative Extension
  • N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation
  • The University of North Carolina Wilmington
Our Sponsors

Support and funding for this educational website was made possible by:

  • N.C. Attorney General’s Environmental Enhancement Grant Program
  • NOAA/National Estuarine Research Reserve Science Collaborative