Storm Water

Table of Contents:

Storm water is NOT clean water!

As rain strikes the ground and travels over land, pollutants are captured in runoff. These pollutants include: sediment, bacteria, nutrients, and metals. Much of this runoff and contaminants ultimately enter a storm drain or flow into our waterways. All waters entering storm drains and drainage ditches in our area are directly piped into ditches and streams that lead to the Lake Rhodhiss.

Storm Water is NOT clean water. Storm Water runoff harms streams and lakes.

  • Transports sediment, nutrients, and chemicals to waterways.
  • Destroys habitat for fish and other aquatic life.
  • Damages stream banks and channels.
  • Raises water temperatures which can harm fish like trout.

Most Caldwell County residents receive their drinking water from Lake Rhodhiss. Runoff that enters the Lake Rhodhiss represents a threat to the area's drinking water as well as other river uses, including recreation and fish and wildlife habitat.

Sediment carried by the Lake Rhodhiss and the Catawba River must be removed at water treatment plants before processed water can be delivered to homes for use. Large amounts of nutrients in lakes cause algal blooms that can produce drinking water that tastes and smells unpleasant.

Follow these simple steps to keep pollutants out of storm water and protect Lake Rhodhiss and the Catawba River.

  • Protect stream banks and shoreline areas near lakes. Do not remove natural plants and trees near the water. Keep new development back from the water's edge. Do not apply fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides near surface waters.

  • Prevent soil loss by establishing ground cover. Seed or sod bare areas to reestablish grass. Limit or restrict logging, land clearing, grading, and similar activities near streams and lakes. When clearing or grading land, use appropriate methods such as silt fences to limit soil erosion.

  • Follow label directions when using lawn care products. Apply fertilizers and lime at recommended rates based on soil test results. Match chemicals to targeted pests. Do not apply when heavy rain is likely. Stay away from ditches, streams, and lake margins. Sweep up materials deposited on sidewalks and streets. Store unused chemicals in a dry environment. Dispose of empty bags and canisters as recommended on the label.

Only rain goes down the storm drains. These drains empty directly in ditches and streams without receiving any treatment. Manmade materials like motor oil, paint, and chemicals, as well as natural materials like leaves and grass clippings should be kept out of storm drains.

What is an Illicit Discharge?

An illicit discharge is when any substance other than stormwater is put into the stormwater system. An illicit connection is any connection of wastewater into the stormwater system. An example of this might be a connection from a bathroom or a washing machine that is dumping into a storm drain/sewer/ditch. An accidental spill or leak of an unsafe substance is also an illicit discharge. Examples of illicit discharges: Paint spills, Soapy wash water, Fuel spills, Sewage overflows, Grease dumping, Sediment runoff from construction, or even dumping yard waste (such as grass clippings) down a storm drain.

How to Report Stormwater Pollution

One of the most important things you can do as a citizen is to report any stormwater pollution you see. Photographic evidence of the discharge is crucial for us to be able to take any enforcement actions, so if any photos can be taken during the discharge please provide them to the stormwater admin.

Online Reporting Tool

or, send reports to:

Jack Cline
828-485-4222 (leave a voicemail)

(for fastest response times please use reporting tool or email)


As a permit requirement, each municipality must provide the opportunity for citizens to have input on the stormwater program, and we would also love to have input from our concerned citizens. To do this we have created a survey! If you would like to suggest a stream cleanup location or give your input on the program as a whole please fill out a survey.


More Information

For any further questions or information on outreach, development regulations, or homeowner drainage complaints please visit the WPCOG stormwater webpage.