County and City Enhance Protections for Waterways

Leo Caplanides

​Several changes to City and County Stormwater Pollution Control Ordinances will soon take effect, enhancing protections for local waterways and aquatic life in Mecklenburg County.

The ordinances, initially adopted in 1995 by the City and 2004 by the County, prohibit the illegal discharge of pollutants into the storm drainage system, which flows directly to streams and lakes without treatment.

Highlights of the ordinance changes taking effect July 1, 2020 include:

  • The maximum fine for illegal discharges of pollutants in the City’s ordinance was increased from $5,000 to $10,000 per day to align with the County’s ordinance.  
  • Improper storage, handling, and processing of materials that would allow pollutants to be deposited on the ground and carried away by stormwater runoff is prohibited.


Ordinance change taking effect January 1, 2021:

  • The use of pavement sealants that contain high amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is prohibited.


Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services completed a multi-year study of local streams and consistently found PAHs at levels harmful to aquatic life. While there are many potential sources of PAHs in the urban environment, government and academic studies have shown that high PAH pavement sealants are the primary source.

Low PAH sealants, which are safer for the environment, are widely available at a comparable cost. Residents and businesses hiring a contractor to apply pavement sealants should check to ensure a low PAH sealant is used.

Additional information can be found at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services website.

Note: The County’s Stormwater Pollution Control Ordinance (SPCO) applies to the Towns of Cornelius, Huntersville, Pineville, and Mint Hill. The Town of Matthews SPCO, revised in 2018, includes a prohibition of high PAH pavement sealants. The Town of Davidson is in the process of proposing revisions to their SPCO, including a prohibition of high PAH sealants. Approval by the Davidson Town Board would result in the extension of the prohibition across all of Mecklenburg County’s jurisdictions. 


July 2, 10:30 a.m. - noon
Little Sugar Creek Greenway Metropolitan section, 1111 Metropolitan Ave., Charlotte (Behind Wendy’s and Petco).
Additional interviews available upon request.


Media contacts: For questions about the City of Charlotte’s ordinance, contact Leo Caplanides, 704-560-8463, For questions about Mecklenburg County’s ordinance, contact Rusty Rozzelle, 980-314-3217,

Mecklenburg County seal, Storm Water logo, City of Charlotte logo



 Recommended Items