Taking Hendersonville by Storm

Two people standing next to blue bags of trash.
City of Hendersonville

“Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day.” This nursery rhyme is the perfect soundtrack for flood-prone areas during large rain events.

When cities receive rainfall, sometimes in excessive amounts, that water needs to be properly managed. When the ground becomes oversaturated with water, it can be seen running down the sides of the roads and trickling down into catch basins, but what exactly happens once it’s down the drain? Through a network of structures, channels, and underground pipes, stormwater makes its way back into our local waterways. Stormwater has the potential to introduce new pollutants into surface water, increase soil erosion, cause flooding, and affect fish and wildlife habitat loss, among other issues. That’s where the City of Hendersonville’s Stormwater program comes into play. 

Hendersonville’s Stormwater Management Program works to preserve, protect, and restore the quality of water in the streams, rivers, and lakes within the city. The City’s Stormwater Management Program was developed in compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to ensure that stormwater is effectively controlled to reduce pollution generated from stormwater runoff. 

The City of Hendersonville is a federally designated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II community and operates under the authority of the Stormwater Management Program. This became effective in August of 2007 after being drafted into the City’s Code of Ordinances and operates as a division of the Engineering Department. NPDES Phase II is a federal and state-mandated program under the Clean Water Act to address non-point source pollution, including stormwater runoff. Permitted communities are required to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable, protect water quality, and satisfy the appropriate water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act. NPDES Phase II is mandated but unfunded by the state and federal government leaving local governments to finance the program. So how does Hendersonville fund the Stormwater Program? 

The answer can be found by reviewing Hendersonville’s combined utility bill. Residents that pay for utilities within the City limits have a $5 monthly stormwater fee. Non-residential customer fees are based on the amount of impervious surfaces on their site, like parking lots and private streets. These combined fees go into the stormwater fund, which is used for staffing, permit compliance, stormwater operation and maintenance, capital projects, and planning. Some of the services around town covered by these fees include street sweeping, leaf collection, and inspections. In addition to the services listed above, stormwater staff works to improve water quality within the community. To support the stormwater program goals stormwater staff frequently pursue grants to implement projects that would otherwise not be possible with available funding. Examples of past grant projects include the Patton Park Stormwater Stroll 

In 2022 Hendersonville was awarded $405,000 in grant funding for water quality improvement projects. $310k has been designated to restore Brooklyn Creek in Sullivan Park, $70k is for a rainwater harvesting system at the new Fire Station 1, and $25k is for water quality planning. $150,000 was also awarded to the 7th Avenue Streetscape project for green infrastructure. Green infrastructure like rain gardens, landscaping, and bioswales, emphasize design that absorbs rainwater where it naturally falls. Additional applications include 3 million dollars in funding requests for the Lower Mud Creek Flood Plain Restoration Project. This project’s main goals are to increase flood storage capacity through stream, wetland, and floodplain restoration around the city’s southside. These future grants are not promised, but this project has received positive feedback. 

The Stormwater Department is also in the beginning phases of the Comprehensive Stormwater Master Plan which will evaluate all sub-basins in the City to develop a holistic and defensible prioritization system for Stormwater capital projects throughout the City. Major parts of this plan involve analyzing the City’s current stormwater infrastructure to gather critical data and establishing a Strategic Management Asset Plan. Until recently, there has not been a large-scale study to gather this important information. Once gathered, Hendersonville can identify and prioritize capital improvements to the existing stormwater infrastructure and plan to combat future issues head-on.  

Additional projects and updates include: 

– Free Stormwater Control Measure (SCM) inspections for all privately owned SCMs within the City. SCM inspections typically cost $300-$500 from third-party vendors. 

– Four flood alert sensors were installed in areas that frequently flood. This will benefit emergency service staff, public works staff, and citizens by providing real-time monitoring of stream levels across Hendersonville.  

– Stormwater staff worked with various property owners to bring multiple SCMs into compliance that were not functioning properly. Properly functioning SCMs protect water quality and prevent flooding. 

– The City of Hendersonville received a Notice of Compliance from the States Audit of the Stormwater Program 

– The Stormwater Division purchased a CCTV crawler, enabling staff to perform critical inspections of the stormwater system in-house 

– Contractors completed CCTV condition assessments for 60,000 linear feet of storm sewers and 180 manholes. 

– Consultants completed two phases of asset inventory and assessment work, mapping and assessing over 80% of the entire stormwater system. This includes city-owned infrastructure and infrastructure owned by other entities that interconnect with the city system. 

– Completed schematic design for two large capital improvement projects in the Wash Creek sub-basin. 

– Organized three stream clean-up events in 2022 and community engagement events. 

– Mentored multiple Eagle Scout and Girl Scout projects. 

– Managed and expanded the trash trout program. This program acted as a pilot program for the area and has since expanded across NC and the country. To date over 9,000 pounds of trash have already been removed from local waterways. 

– Planted 3,000+ trees annually along stream buffers within the community. 

– Organized annual stream restoration workshops. 

The Stormwater Division has made significant strides towards improving current and future water quality for the City of Hendersonville. For more information about the Stormwater Department, follow the City of Hendersonville’s website and social media to stay up to date on stormwater projects and news.  

For any stormwater issues within the City of Hendersonville, please call the stormwater hotline at 828-697-3013.

Written by the City of Hendersonville.