Stormwater Quality

When it rains in Durham, any water that doesn't soak into the ground becomes stormwater. This runoff picks up pollutants as it flows to storm drains and eventually to our streams and lakes. The Stormwater Quality Unit at the City of Durham protects our local water bodies and ensures that they can continue to be used for drinking, fishing, and swimming.

The Clean Water Act requires cities with large populations, like Durham, to have a federal permit in order to discharge stormwater into creeks and streams. This permit is called the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (or NPDES) permit, and it includes guidelines for water quality monitoring, illicit discharge detection and enforcement, and public outreach. Read on to learn how Durham's Stormwater Quality Unit complies with our NPDES permit and protects local water from urban pollution. 

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How Can You Help?

Learn & Get Involved

Call  919-560-SWIM (7946)

If you see evidence of water pollution, call the pollution prevention hotline.

What we do

Dry cleanupIllicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

When we receive a complaint through our pollution prevention hotline like evidence of oil poured down the storm drain or a leaking sanitary sewer pipe, our staff investigates the complaint and follows through to make sure the pollution is fixed and doesn't happen again. 

Staff also investigate water flowing through the storm drain system when it has not rained. Since only rain is allowed down the storm drains, this water is often a sign of illegal pollution. 

Stormwater employee samples surface water from a stream. Monitoring

We track the health of our surface water and record physical and chemical traits in streams throughout the city. By sampling the water from local creeks and streams we can measure what pollutants are flowing into our waterways from our city. With this information, we prevent such pollution in the future. 

Pollution Prevention
We teach Durham City employees, residents, and local businesses about stormwater pollution prevention through training, public outreach, and events. Stream restoration projects, stormwater control measures, and water quality improvement plans are also part of the stormwater management plan and are ways that we prevent future pollution in our water bodies.