Surface Water Quality

Stream and Wetland Restoration​​

​Stream and wetland restoration projects are designed to improve surface water quality and aquatic life by reducing erosion and restoring habitat in streams, floodplains and wetlands.

Between 2003 and 2016 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services​ improved approximately 30 miles of streams and 18 acres of wetlands were either improved or preserved throughout Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Stream bank erosion is the largest contributor of sediment in our streams. As streams erode, sediment is deposited downstream, burying aquatic habitat and altering the stability and quality of the stream.

Most stream bank erosion occurs today because of historical stormwater management. Agriculture practices once dredged streams straight, deep and wide. As land was developed, stormwater was piped directly to the nearest stream. Shallow, sinuous (meandering) streams with floodplains containing natural vegetation were converted into deep, straight, eroding channels with floodplains containing developments and few trees or bushes.

Today, it is well known that high quality streams need natural features to be healthy. These features include stable stream banks, wide buffers of woody vegetation (trees and bushes), sinuosity, and unobstructed access to floodplains.

Stream restoration projects reduce erosion and restore
natural features to reduce pollutants,
absorb and dissipate the energy of stormwater,
and keep water temperatures cool and oxygen levels high.

The degree to which each stream restoration project can restore natural features depends largely on the physical constraints of the envi​ronment where the stream is located. The more urban the environment, the more likely a project will be constrained by buildings, roads, and other necessary infrastructure and utilities.

Some projects remove structures (i.e. flood prone homes) in the floodplains, allowing for space to improve sinuosity to a stream, plant woody stream corridors, and give the stream access to the floodplain where erosive energy of flood waters can be reduced. Some projects incorporate green infrastructure practices, such as ponds or rain gardens, to reduce stormwater pollutants and manage stormwater flowing into streams. Some do both. Some only have room to stabilize stream bank erosion and restore a small width of native vegetation along stream banks.

Stream Restoration Questions?

Erin Shanaberger

City of Charlotte Watershed Planning & Project Implementation Supervisor

Timothy J. Trautman, PE, CFM

Program Manager, Engineering & Mitigation Program