​​​Water Quality Buffers ​

​​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 stormwater 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

Fill out the above application form, then submit to:

Rusty Rozzelle

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services

Mecklenburg County Water Quality Program

2145 Suttle Avenue

Charlotte, NC 28208

Questions about water quality buffers?

Ron Eubanks

Questions about septic systems in water quality buffers?

Lisa Corbitt