Water Quality

Our Goal: Enhance Coastal Water Quality and Reduce Flooding

Intense rainstorms cause flooding and water quality degradation as the runoff funnels pollutants to our coastal waters. The impacts are magnified by the altered landscape that channels rain instead of absorbing it. Reducing the volume of stormwater runoff is key to minimizing flooding and restoring coastal waters. 

Clean coastal water is the foundation of our coastal economy and ecosystems and we depend on it for work and recreation. That’s why water quality will always be a priority for the Coastal Federation.

15,000 acres

of wetlands restored


of gallons of stormwater runoff reduced

Stormwater Reduction Strategies

Nature-based stormwater strategies improve water quality and reduce flooding, resulting in cleaner & more productive coastal waters.

Intense rainstorms cause flooding and water quality degradation as the runoff funnels pollutants to our coastal waters. Impacts are magnified by the altered landscape that channels rain instead of absorbing it.

The Coastal Federation partners with numerous stakeholders to advance the use of nature-based stormwater strategies including strategic land acquisition and conservation easements, wetland restoration, urban stormwater retrofits, and other best management practices to reduce nutrient and bacteria loadings into coastal waterways and reduce flooding. 

Showcasing these projects helps advance nature-based strategies as standard practice and  provides valuable opportunities for developers, design professionals, contractors, elected and appointed officials, farmers, and landowners to better understand, utilize, and promote nature-based strategies. 

Action Plan for Nature-based Stormwater Strategies
Learn more about nature-based strategies for effective stormwater management in the North Carolina Action Plan.

Wetlands Restoration

Wetlands tie together land and water and are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world.

The United States has lost over half of the wetlands in the lower 48 states, and the losses continue at an estimate of over 60,000 acres per year.

However, North Carolina is at a crucial point: unlike some areas like the Chesapeake Bay or Louisiana, we still have a fair amount of coastal wetlands left and our water quality is still relatively healthy. This is important, because it is FAR less costly to protect something than to restore it.

Watershed Restoration Progress

The Federation has prioritized the restoration of the Stump Sound and Newport River watersheds and is actively finalizing formal plans to serve as the foundation for replicating and restoring their natural hydrology.  Make these plans top priority 

Featured Projects

Explore Watershed Restoration Plans

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Smart Yards

This guide includes simple Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Smart Yard projects to reduce stormwater and improve the health of our coastal waters.

Water Quality Resources

Swansboro rain garden
The Coastal Federation teamed up with Swansboro to develop a watershed restoration plan for the town which lays out a framework for reducing stormwater runoff that flows into Foster, Halls, Hammocks, Historic, and Ward/Hawkins Creeks ultimately reaching the White Oak.
Coastal Center Gardens
Visit us in Wrightsville Beach for a 1-mile walking tour of our stormwater reduction projects and check out the ways we help to keep your local waterways clean.
Strategic Plan for Creating a Robust Coastal Economy with Coastal Restoration
The Coastal Federation is working with federal, state, and local leaders, economic developers, private businesses, and coastal residents to create and implement an economic development strategy for the coast that also protects and restores coastal resources. Investment in coastal restoration creates short-term and long-term jobs, boosts fisheries, and ensures a clean environment that benefits the tourism industry. This draft comprehensive strategic blueprint explains how programs and projects that protect coastal resources also strengthen economic growth along the coast.
This is an image of an area of rich inlet which would've been destroyed without proper coastal management strategies
North Carolina’s estuarine system consists of approximately 23 inlets, 12,000 miles of estuarine shoreline, and more than 3,000 square miles of brackish water estuaries. Some of these areas are rapidly developing and lack coastal management strategies. Those communities are experiencing the issues such as habitat degradation, water quality changes, erosion and land loss, aging infrastructure, and conflicts over access are a few examples. Local governments are considering solutions to protect infrastructure from flooding and coastal change. Developing and implementing solutions require careful examination of the science and the legal and policy obstacles that are in place. The study below adds to the coastal management strategies discussions already taking place at the state and local levels and in the homes and businesses of those living on the coast.
2015 Water Supply Summit: Insights & Actions for Southeast North Carolina
The Water Summit addressed the challenges and solutions for maintaining our water supplies over the next few decades. It identified what prudent management is necessary to prepare an adequate supply of clean water for our communities.
Coastal Restoration and Community Economic Development in North Carolina (2015 Study)
To better document how coastal restoration in North Carolina also affects community and economic development, the North Carolina Coastal Federation contracted with RTI International to assess the link between coastal restoration and economic development, perform an economic impact analysis of related projects, review how other states benefit from coastal restoration, and identify how coastal restoration fits within the state’s larger economic development strategies.
Saving Coastal Watersheds — North Brunswick Magazine (2014)Download
Mattamuskeet Plan
The Mattamuskeet Drainage Association is working with the N.C. Coastal Federation, researchers from N.C. State University and other stakeholders to carry out a watershed restoration plan that was developed with a grant from the N.C. Division of Water Quality. These partners recognize the need to reduce the volume of drainage water that is pumped into shellfish waters. The networks of canals and ditches throughout the drainage association and the nearby gamelands transport naturally occurring bacteria to the Pamlico Sound. This voluntary plan identifies specific projects that reduce the amount of water pumped into coastal waters, and at the same time provides for improved water-management for agriculture, forestry, and wildlife.
Carteret Community College Fact Sheet
| Fact Sheets
This fact sheet details the importance of the Carteret County Community College Living Shoreline as well as the Bogue Sound area in general. It provides information on how the Federation and the community college are working together to protect and create habitat, prevent erosion, and improve water quality.
an image of volunteers planting marsh grass at a Federation event with Airlie Gardens
| Fact Sheets
This Fact Sheet provides information on the NC Coastal Federation's joint efforts with Airlie Gardens, NOAA's Community-based Restoration Program, and Restore America's Estuaries. This project's goal is to link coastal habitat restoration with environmental education efforts in NC's southeastern coastal region.

Protect Clean Water

You can protect and restore water for fishing, swimming and working.