Introduction to Stormwater

Stormwater Control

The concern for stormwater runoff is increasingly becoming more serious as our county grows in population. Not considered a farming community, Gaston County is progressively being urbanized. The conversion of our land from rural to developed generates large volumes of stormwater runoff. Stormwater originates from rainfall or snowmelt that enters natural and man-made drainage systems. These storm systems do not receive any treatment before entering the waters of our streams and lakes. More than just occurrences of flooding, stormwater carries pollutants such as sediment, nutrients, and bacteria, affecting our lakes and streams. This in turn affects the quality of our drinking water and thereof each resident of the county. We are very fortunate that the state of North Carolina has commissioned Gaston County Natural Resources to assist and educate the citizens of Gaston County in the management of stormwater.

Problems Associated with Storm Water

Many problems associated with stormwater can be minimized or eliminated with careful, precise, planning and preparation. As runoff travels over land it captures and transports a variety of pollutants lying on the ground. Common types of pollutants are:

Fecal Coli form Bacteria
Organic Materials
Oil and Grease
Pesticides and Herbicides

Sediment is the number one pollutant affecting water in Gaston County. Sediment fills in reservoirs, degrades habitats, increases water treatment costs, and helps in transporting other pollutants into lakes and streams. Major sources of sediment are construction and agriculture. Both of these industries are active in Gaston County.

Nutrients include nitrogen and phosphorus from the fertilization of crops, lawns, and other plant life. Excessive amounts of nutrients flowing into our waters cause algal blooms and will produce an unpleasant odor, and taste in the sources of our drinking water, fish kills, mosquito infestation, and numerous other problems.

Fecal Coli from Bacteria is found in the waste by-products of warm-blooded animals and birds. These bacteria are used as indicators of the potential presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that affect humans and other animals, both domestic and in the wild. Waste products are caught in stormwater runoff and end up in our waters used for recreation and consumption. Mismanagement of waterfowl habitats creates a surplus of excrement found in lakes and streams.

Name Category Illness
Pseudomonas Bacteria Swimmer's Itch
Salmonella Bacteria Gastrointestinal Illness
Shigella Bacteria Dysentery
Cryptosporidium Protozoa Diarrhea
Giardia Protozoa Diarrhea
HAV Virus Hepatitis A

Sources include malfunctioning wastewater treatment plants, leaking sewer lines, failing septic systems, livestock operations, wildlife, pets, and inadequate pumping facilities at recreation sites.

Metals are toxic to many aquatic organisms. Because metals accumulate in the tissues of aquatic life, humans who eat fish and shellfish are subjected to this toxicity. Sources of metals include automobile emissions, paints, roofing materials, motor oils, spills from industrial sites, and natural weathering of rocks.

Organic matter is made of leaves, grass clippings, leftover foods, decaying plant life, and animal wastes. These products use oxygen during their decomposition process. High amounts of organic matter washed into our lakes and streams can contribute to low oxygen levels which are unsuitable for aquatic life, resulting in massive kills.

Oil and grease affect aquatic life by bonding with sediment and settling on the bottom of our waters producing toxicity to plant and animal life or floating on top and cutting off oxygen supplies to plant and animal life. Sources of this pollutant include runoff from driveways, roads, parking lots, gas stations, freight operations, warehouse and storage facilities, and improper disposal of these products by the consumer.

Pesticides and herbicides are man-made compounds used to control or kill insects and weeds. These chemicals are generally toxic to aquatic life, causing kills or disease. They may also accumulate in the tissue of fish or shellfish, hence becoming toxic to humans and animals that consume the fish or shellfish. Sources include agriculture, urban development, the weekend gardener, and improper disposal of the products and their containers.

To learn more about Stormwater pollution, view the Citizen's Guide to Stormwater (PDF) or the Guía del Cuidando Sobre Aguas Pluviales (PDF).

Stormwater Post-Construction

On Monday October 10, 2022 Gaston County Natural Resources will begin accepting online erosion control and stormwater plan submittals through the Citizen’s Self Service Portal (CSS). We will continue to accept permit applications and plans in person or via mail until November 4th, 2022. Beginning November 5th, 2022, submittals will only be allowed through the Citizen Self Ser-vice Portal. An account with Gaston County will be required to submit plans and supporting documentation, access permit status, and access inspection reports. We ask that you use this time to get accounts established. Any application you have in our current process will be allowed to continue.

The account registration can be completed online at Citizen's Self Service. If you have questions regarding this process, email Jonathan Boerger or call 704-922-2150.

Service Requests or Complaints

In order to better determine how we can help you with your stormwater or erosion concerns, please review the Stormwater or Erosion Complaints (PDF) regarding how such issues are handled according to the statute. In most cases, damages incurred by a property owner as a result of stormwater or erosion control violations is a civil matter between the parties involved. Please visit the Mediation Center of the Southern Piedmont for more information about settling civil matters.

Stormwater Post-Construction Planning & Design Links

NC DEQ Stormwater Design Manual
Stormwater Control Ordinance
NC DEQ Post-Construction Stormwater Permitting Map 

Stormwater Permit Fees

A stormwater permit is required for all land-disturbing operations that equal to or exceed one acre. The Gaston County Board of Commissioners has established permit review fees equal to $450 per acre. These fees shall be doubled when activity subject to the ordinance begins before a stormwater permit is obtained from the county.

For land, disturbing areas equal to or more than one acre, the stormwater permit application plan shall be prepared by and bear the seal and signature of a professional engineer or landscape architect licensed in the state of North Carolina.

$450 non-refundable plan review processing fee for each acre of disturbed land or any part of an acre of disturbed land (including off-site borrow and waste areas). No processing fee will be charged for a revised plan unless the revised plan contains an increase in the number of acres to be disturbed.

Example: 1.0 acre = $450

1.1 acre = $900