Stormwater Management

Stormwater is generated from rain and snowmelt events. Stormwater runoff is water that does not soak into the ground, but instead flows over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops. The runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment that can harm our waterways. Read about Upstate Forever's work to reduce unnecessary pavement.

While conventional solutions to manage stormwater — detention ponds — remain important, we must shift our focus to the impacts from our larger development patterns.  With one of the largest industrial hubs in the south, the Upstate has a robust economy and continues to attract rapid growth — which often means increased stormwater runoff. Upstate Forever promotes stormwater management solutions at several scales to reduce and mitigate the runoff caused by all this development. 

Site-scale solutions

Site scale looks at keeping stormwater on site through use of permeable materials, rain gardens, rain harvesting techniques, and native plants. These Low Impact Development (LID) strategies are designed to reduce the quantity of and improve the quality of stormwater runoff from a site. Best of all, LID strategies are generally more attractive than conventional detention ponds and can add value to a development.

Upstate Forever has developed fact sheets about some of the most commonly used LID practices:

Bioretention / Rain Gardens (PDF)

Landscaped areas designed to capture, store, and treat rainwater. These areas effectively manage stormwater onsite by using a combination of plants and layers of soil, sand, and mulch to reduce quantity and improve quality of stormwater.

Green Roofs (PDF)

Built utilizing plants adapted for rooftop conditions, these systems absorb rainfall that would otherwise be wasted as stormwater runoff. Green roofs help to replace the vegetated footprint eliminated during construction.

Native Plants (PDF)

Plants native to the Upstate are well-adapted to our local conditions. Once established, native vegetation helps reduce and filter stormwater runoff while needing little-to-no fertilizers or irrigation.

Rain Harvesting (PDF)

Containers store rainwater from roofs or other surfaces for future use. Captured water is generally stored in tanks, most commonly in rain barrels and cisterns.

Other common LID practices include shared/alternative driveway surfaces, pervious pavement, bioswales, and stormwater wetlands. 

Neighborhood-Scale Solutions

Neighborhood scale actions help ensure residents will have transportation options beyond their automobile. Building connected streets provides more route choices, allowing pedestrians and cyclists alternatives to busy roads and shortening travel distances. Building more compactly reduces the amount of land needed to be developed, uses existing infrastructure efficiently, and supports a workable transit system.

Regional-Scale Solutions

Regional scale solutions focus on encouraging developments in locations near a variety of uses and that minimize impacts to environmentally sensitive areas, including pristine rivers and waterways.



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