Surface Water Quality

​St​ream Walks

Each year staff walks 20% of streams in Mecklenburg County looking for illicit discharges. This equals an average of approximately 200 miles per year! During these stream surveys or "stream walks", staff performs the following activities:

  • Document the location, condition, and flow of all outfalls (aka pipes) that are over twelve inches in diameter
  • Test water flowing from an outfall during dry weather (Stormwater outfalls typically should not have flow during dry weather)  
  • Test water quality at stream junctions and document watershed conditions

Documenting outfall locations and mapping storm drain systems is critical for responding to surface water pollution. When a pollution report in surface water occurs, staff can quickly assess the location of outfalls around the area where pollution was reported, track the pollution to its source, and stop it as quickly as possible.

Documenting and testing outfalls on a regular basis also helps staff find illicit discharges and check back on problem areas or pollution "Hot Spots" they found previously. 

While staff performs "stream walks", they also document additional information used for watershed planning, restoration activities, and the management of stormwater infrastructure and surface water​. Additional information collected includes the location of severe stream bank erosion, wetlands, high quality streams, sewer line crossings, inlets, pipes, and culve​rts. ​​