The Town has a long-term strategy for protecting its greatest environmental and economic asset - the beach along the Atlantic Ocean. This area includes numerous storm water outfalls which discharge to the recreational beach area. Tourism, beach and swimming activities are the mainstays of the town as a recreation destination area and are integral to the town's economic health. 800,000 tourists visited between March and November of 2016. The population of New Hanover County is projected to double by 2025, bringing increased potential for tourism and development. These factors will bring additional risk for bacterial contaminants and other storm water pollutants to enter the beach areas following a rain event.
In 2007, the town adopted a Storm Water Ordinance. Between 2005 and 2007, the town collaborated with both N.C. State University and N.C. Department of Transportation to develop and install unique infiltration systems in the dune areas to capture the first one-half inch of rain and use the sand to filter the pollutants before the water discharges to the ocean. Monitoring of these systems have shown them to work as expected.
In 2017, the town received a grant from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund to study the feasibility of installing more systems on beach accesses south of the pier to improve water quality.
For additional information on these systems, click here