Educational Resources

Educational Resources

Educating our community about stormwater pollution, how we can help prevent it, and its effect on streams and lakes is an important step towards improving and protecting local surface water quality.

The following information provides a variety of resources related to educating residents about stormwater, streams and lakes throughout Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Resources for Educators

In this section you will find information, tools and activities to help you learn and/or teach others about stormwater, streams and lakes.

The UNC-TV lesson below uses entertaining video segments and interactive components to define and describes the water cycle and watersheds, and also features information on both the importance of watershed management and strategies on how best to take care of local watersheds.

The Water Cycle & Watersheds

The Water Cycle is a great place to start teaching kids how rain is connected to stormwater, streams, rivers, lakes and even the water in our homes! 

Water Cycle Resources

Three water cycle questions for kids:

  • Where does the rain go when it hits the street outside of our house?
  • How does the path of water in the water cycle change when we have a lot of impervious surfaces covering the ground? 
    (Impervious surface doesn't allow water to soak into the ground. i.e., roads, sidewalks, rooftops)
  • How is rain connected to the water we drink?


A watershed is an area of land where all the 
rain drains to one body of water.

Rain falls everywhere, so we all live in a watershed! The name of the watershed changes depending on the name of the stream, river, or lake where rain eventually flows. Rain and stormwater runs downhill and comes together in creeks, rivers, lakes, and eventually the ocean.

A watershed can be very large or very small. For example, all the land that drains to a river or lake would be quite large while all the land that drains to a small creek or pond would be relatively smaller.

Here is a watershed poster and some activities to help you teach kids in elementary and middle school about watersheds: Watersheds - Poster and Activities. Use this poster to teach watershed concepts like:

  • All water flows downhill but that's not always south!
  • Topography determines which way rain, streams and rivers flow.
  • Rain flows into streams, which flows into rivers and lakes, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Here's a short Watershed video that reinforces watershed concepts.

There are 17 river watersheds in NC and Charlotte and Mecklenburg County contains parts of two river watersheds– the Catawba River and Yadkin River Watersheds. This interactive map of NC Watersheds will help you identify which river watershed you live in. In Mecklenburg County rainwater either flows to the southwest towards the Catawba River or it flows to the southeast towards the Yadkin River. Here's a map of Mecklenburg County's River Watersheds(PDF, 2MB). Here are three resources that will help students learn more about the unique ecology, environmental concerns and success of our local river watersheds:

There are also 22 creek watersheds in Mecklenburg County. Find out the name of the local creek watershed where you live through Mecklenburg County's Interactive Geoportal. Click on "Environment" and enter your address. You'll find the name of the creek watershed where you live. You can also zoom out on this map and find a park downstream of your creek. Take the kids there for a fun day at the park and be sure to let them know that the creek in the park is where rain from the neighborhood goes.

School Presentations

We offer presentations that include hands-on activities for schools. We can modify these presentations and activities to fit specific interests, curriculum, and/or school schedules.

Please see our educational offerings by grade level below:

Regional Stormwater Partnership of the Carolinas

The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are members of the Regional Stormwater Partnership of the Carolinas (RSPC); a partnership which includes municipalities throughout the region that collaborate on efforts to fulfill municipal stormwater permit requirements and other stormwater issues. The RSPC provides an opportunity to leverage limited resources to fulfill common needs of the partners. More information about the RSCP can be found at

For more information contact:

Sharnelle G. Currence
City of Charlotte, Public Information Specialist - Water Quality

Ashley Smith
Mecklenburg County Environmental Specialist III

Prevent Stormwater Pollution with Stormy

Prevent Stormwater Pollution with Stormy.

Stormy's Guide to Stormwater(PDF, 24MB).

Residents - Tips for Preventing Stormwater Pollution

There are several ways that residents can help prevent stormwater pollution. The tips below as well as our Resident’s Guide to Storm Water(PDF, 12MB) (English) and Resident’s Guide to Storm Water(PDF, 12MB) (Spanish) are great resources.

1. Report Pollution
Responding quickly to water pollution is critical for preventing damage.

  • When you smell or see something unusual in storm drains, streams or lakes, report it!

  • Call 3-1-1. For more information about the ways you can report water pollution see Report A Concern.

  • CLT+ is a new way to interact with CharMeck 311, which serves as the customer contact center providing information and services for customers in the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. CLT+ is available on both the Apple App and Google Play stores. It is free to download.

2. Keep Yard Waste Out of Storm Drains
Yard waste in the street or on a stream bank can wash and clog storm drains and streams. This can cause local flooding and harm fish and aquatic organisms. Please dispose of yard waste properly. You can compost it and use it in your yard, drop it off at a recycling center, or follow the guidance of your local municipality for curb pick up. Please choose the link below that corresponds to your location.

3. Prevent Muddy Streams
Sediment or mud is one of the top pollutants for Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s waterways. It’s harder for fish and aquatic organisms to breathe and reproduce in waterways filled with sediment.

  • If a construction site is causing muddy streets, storm drains or streams, call 3-1-1. See more information about reporting pollution at Report A Concern.

  • Plant native grasses, shrubs and trees along the banks of streams and lakes.

4. Scoop The Poop
There are over 55,000 registered dogs in Mecklenburg County that produce over 15 million pounds of waste each year. Big or small, it doesn't matter, any waste left on the ground can be a source of bacteria for our streams and lakes.

5. Volunteer
We can all make a difference, especially when we work together. Help teach kids the value of volunteering, the beauty of our local waterways, and how we can each protect them.

  • Help us clean up streams and lakes, plant trees, mark storm drains or monitor water quality. See Volunteer Opportunities.

6. Practice "Green" Yard Care
Extra fertilizers and chemicals in the yard equals wasted money and polluted streams and lakes.

7. Dispose of Wash Water Properly
Dirty water from washing or rinsing items around your house and yard is a common source of stormwater pollution.

  • Dispose of dirty water in a sink where the water will go to a sewage treatment plant.

  • If rinsing or washing your tools or equipment inside isn’t possible, do it on your lawn where the water will soak in and not enter a storm drain.

8. Use a Car Wash, Not the Driveway
Oils, metals and soap washed off cars are harmful to streams.

  • If you wash cars or anything else outside, wash it on the grass where water will soak into the ground. Better yet, use a car wash where water goes to a treatment plant.

9. Take Unwanted Hazardous Chemicals to a Recycle Center
Just one gallon of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) can pollute millions of gallons of water. Don’t dump it down a storm drain or down the sink or toilet.

  • HHWs are chemicals used in homes that are toxic, flammable, corrosive and/or explosive.

  • Examples: used motor oil, turpentine, nail polish, drain cleaner, bug and weed spray, oil-based paint, moth balls, carpet cleaners, and oven cleaners.

  • For more examples and drop off locations see Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Solid Waste’s Household Hazardous Waste Information.

  • Many commercial auto part stores and auto repair shops accept used oil from residents.

10. Reduce the Volume of Stormwater
Less stormwater equals less stream bank erosion and sediment pollution. Rain barrels and rain gardens reduce the volume of stormwater reaching streams during a storm.

  • Buy a Rain Barrel. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services partners with Mecklenburg Soil & Water Conservation District to sell rain barrels, which range in price from $95 to $110.

  • Build a Rain Garden. See the Rain Garden Network for step-by-step directions, photos, and plant lists. Yards with heavy clay soils should install an under-drain.

11. Hire Qualified Contractors that Follow the Rules
Contractors and businesses can also be a source of stormwater pollution, especially when some of their operations are located outside. Poor landscape maintenance practices, runoff from washing of vehicles, and the discharge of wastewater from improperly maintained private sewer systems and grease traps can all lead to stormwater pollution entering our streams and lakes. Make sure your contractor follows the best management practices to reduce stormwater pollution. Best management practice information is below.


Businesses can be the source of stormwater pollution, especially when some of their operations are located outside. Best practices involve the proper handling, storage and disposal of materials.  Please see fact sheets below to learn about best practices for different types of businesses.

Some of the most common sources of stormwater pollution from a business include:

  • Poor landscape maintenance practices;
  • Runoff from washing of vehicles, equipment, structures and tools; and
  • Discharge of wastewater from improperly maintained private sewer systems and grease traps.

Pavement Sealing

Landscape Maintenance

Pressure Washers, Vehicle Detailers and Mobile Detailers

Food Service Industry

Best Management Practices for other specific business sectors

Maintenance of Best Management Practices

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are non-structural and structural stormwater practices that manage stormwater generated by impervious surfaces and/or remove pollution from stormwater before it drains into local streams and lakes. Another name for structural BMPs is Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) or green infrastructure. No matter the name, they all store, absorb and/or filter stormwater to reduce flood risks and improve water quality. Examples of common structural BMPs are dry detention ponds, grass swales, bioretention or rain gardens, sand filters, stormwater wetlands, and wet ponds.

Since the late 1970s, thousands of privately owned structural BMPs have been built throughout the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Long term maintenance of these structures to their original design and function is required and critical for managing stormwater generated by land development.

Long term maintenance of all structural BMPs to original design is REQUIRED.

Regulatory staff will send property owners inspection reports and maintenance notices if maintenance or repairs are needed. Failure to maintain a structural BMP can result in fines. Enforcement is used to ensure structural BMPs are maintained. Regulatory staff work with property owners to gain compliance and are available to assist property owners with ordinance requirements. BMPs fail due to lack of maintenance, they may be very costly to repair. Routine maintenance helps property owners avoid those potentially high costs.

Some property owners do not know they must maintain their structural BMP or even the best way to do it. The City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the six towns have recently put forth a concerted effort to inventory these BMPs and contact landowners to make them aware of their location, function, and maintenance responsibilities. Please Report A Concern if you see a structural BMP that is not being maintained well.

Inspections are one of the most important parts of long-term maintenance. Staff recommends* that property owners include regular inspections of structural BMPs in their contracts with landscape companies. This way a contractor can alert property owners of maintenance needs before they turn into big, costly problems. This list of BMP contractors and inspectors(XLSX, 30KB) may help property owners choose an experienced and knowledgeable contractor. They are not endorsed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services.

Beginning in 2005, local municipalities began adopting Post Construction Stormwater Ordinances (PCSOs). These ordinances included more rigorous structural BMP design and maintenance requirements than previous land development regulations.

*For BMPs, built after a local PCSO was adopted, an annual inspection report is required.

The annual BMP inspection must be conducted and documented by a licensed professional engineer, a registered landscape architect or a qualified professional depending on the jurisdiction where the property is located. The report must be recorded on the appropriate BMP Inspection Report Form and submitted to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services.

For more information about the inspection and maintenance requirements, please see Stormwater Regulations.

For maintenance tips of the most common structural BMPs, see the following brochures.

For more comprehensive information about structural stormwater BMPs, their maintenance needs and common problems, see the following manuals.

All structural BMPs, or SCMs, included in the Maintenance Manual have been monitored and evaluated to determine their ability to remove stormwater pollution under local conditions. See Pilot Stormwater Control Measures for monitoring reports. 


Corey Priddy
Mecklenburg County Environmental Supervisor

Jordan Miller, PE
Surface Water Quality and Environmental Permitting Manager
Charlotte Storm Water Services