ATLANTIC BEACH — A plan to improve the local water quality is going before the Atlantic Beach Town Council for approval Friday, Feb. 22 with a recommendation from the town planning board.
The planning board met online via Zoom Tuesday for its regular meeting. During the meeting, the board unanimously recommended the council adopt a draft watershed restoration and stormwater resiliency plan created by staff through a partnership with the East Carolina Council of Governments, LSDI Engineering and the N.C. Coastal Federation.
Town Planning and Zoning Director Michelle Eitner said the draft plan is the result of studies requested by an ad hoc committee.
“In 2018, we had an ad hoc committee made by (Councilman) Rich Johnson, who wanted to look at water quality,” Ms. Eitner said.
NCCF Deputy Director Lauren Kolodij said the federation has worked with other towns around Carteret County on watershed plans.
“A watershed plan position the town to apply for (Environmental Protection Agency) 319 funding,” she said. “It’s not a land-use plan…it’s a plan on how you intend to address stormwater.”
Stormwater runoff is the No. 1 non-point source of water pollution on the North Carolina coast. Stormwater washes over impervious surfaces, picking up pollutants. If it isn’t given the opportunity to infiltrate into the ground, those pollutants are carried to nearby water bodies.
LSDI representatives Johnathan Hinkle said there’s been a substantial increase from 1980-2017 in local shellfishing closures, which have coincided with an increase in stormwater runoff.
“We’ve identified multiple (potential) projects (to improve stormwater infiltration) throughout Atlantic Beach,” Mr. Hinkle said, ranging from installing grass swales to putting in permeable pavement.
He said the plan has a focus on stormwater infiltration projects along the Atlantic Beach Causeway, and other highlighted projects include installing permeable pavement at the Food Lion parking lot in Atlantic Station, creating a stormwater infiltration wetland at Hoop Hole Creek, improving the retention pond at the community park, beach dune infiltration projects in well-developed areas and promoting downspout disconnections.
Mr. Hinkle said community involvement and outreach is a critical part of the plan.
“I want this to be a living document,” he said. “This is a plan, but it may need more projects as time goes on.”
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.