After heavy rainfall events, large areas of the coast are temporarily closed due to increase volume of bacteria reaching the shellfish waters. These temporary closures can last for weeks until satisfactory water quality returns. The State is then required to report these waters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being legally “impaired.”
Volume versus Pollution Control
What causes closures?
Hardened landscapes resulting in high bacterial loads
Hardened landscapes of developed areas in our coastal watersheds have increased the flows of stormwater runoff to our sounds, increasing the delivery of bacteria such as E.coli and Enterococcus spp.
What can be done?
The federal government works with state agencies, local governments and non-governmental organizations to develop strategies to reduce the volume of surface runoff to levels that would be naturally occurring. Strategies include developing:
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)- determines how many pollutants need reducing
Watershed Restoration Plans- work to control the volume of surface runoff to naturally occurring levels.
Recently, the North Carolina Coastal Federation has published a free guidebook to provide clear and detailed guidance for the development of a watershed management plan that aims to replicate the pre-impairment surface water hydrology and thereby improves coastal water quality. The North Carolina Coastal Federation has also published a Low Impact Development (LID) guidebook to assist local governments, home and business owners decrease the runoff in their immediate areas.
Watershed Restoration Improvement
Since 2010, seven coastal watershed restoration plans have been developed; all of which include an implementation plan and volume reduction goals to protect shellfishing waters.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation collaborates with multiple stakeholders and partners to promote oyster restoration, education, science, mariculture and sustainable harvest efforts in the state. We are the state’s only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses exclusively on protecting and restoring the coast of North Carolina through education, advocacy and habitat preservation and restoration. With our partners, we aim to have the N.C. coast regarded as the “Napa Valley” of oysters. Connect with us to stay informed about upcoming oyster events, the latest news and science and oyster restoration efforts.