Water quality buffers are naturally vegetated “no build” zones along the banks of streams and lakes.
What buffers do:
- Decrease erosion of stream banks and shorelines
- Reduce some flood risks by storing excess storm water runoff
- Moderate stream temperatures and sunlight, keeping fish and other aquatic life healthy
- Provide places for wildlife to build nests and find food
It is illegal to put a structure in a buffer or do any type of construction. Buffer restrictions even apply to septic systems, swimming pools, hard-surface pathways, and grading the soil. Local buffer ordinances also limit or ban mowing, cutting and removing plants in buffer areas.
Rules about buffers can be complicated. Requirements for water quality buffers are included in three local ordinances:
- Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM)
- Post Construction Controls
- Water Supply Watersheds
Also, Goose Creek Buffers apply in sections of Mint Hill. These fall under state regulations.
The width of a water quality buffer and the activities that are allowed in that buffer can vary, depending on which ordinance applies. If more than one buffer ordinance applies, the ordinance that is most restrictive is the one that must be followed.
Effective buffers have:
- A healthy, undisturbed cover of vegetation
- Native plants that are well-adapted to the local climate, pests and disease
- A tree canopy that shades surface water and moderates water temperatures
- A dense root mass for reducing soil erosion
- Little need for maintenance as the buffer mimics natural conditions
- No buildings; no construction; no asphalt, concrete, brick surfaces; and no fill dirt
Find out if your property has mandatory water quality buffers
Water Quality Buffer Implementation Guidelines
Application for a Water Quality Buffer Disturbance
Fill out the above application form, then submit to:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services
Mecklenburg County Water Quality Program
2145 Suttle Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28208
2012 presentation to Charlotte Regional Realtors about water quality buffers
View the Water Quality Buffer mailer
Questions about water quality buffers?
Questions about septic systems in water quality buffers?