Water Quality Buffers in Charlotte- Mecklenburg

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1 Water Quality Buffers in Charlotte- Mecklenburg Importance of Water Quality Buffers Types of Buffers Buffer Requirements Water Supply Watershed Built-Upon Areas Long Creek in West Charlotte

2 How Buffers Protect Water Quality Evapotranspiration 1. Vegetation filters pollutants in overland sheet flow. 2. Permeable soil soaks up runoff and filters pollutants in subsurface flow. Some water provides groundwater recharge. 3. Roots of vegetation absorb nutrients and other pollutants. WATER Buffer = Filter + Sponge

3 Buffer Benefits Most experts agree that a vegetated buffer is essential to the health of a stream. 1. Protect water quality by filtering pollutants contained in the storm water runoff. 2. Provide storage for floodwaters. 3. Allow channels to meander naturally. 4. Provide suitable habitats for wildlife. 5. Provide shade to reduce water temperatures. 6. Provide soil stability through root mass. 7. Provide groundwater recharge.

4 Buffer Types Why are there so many types of buffers? In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, water quality buffers are required under 5 different ordinances developed over the past 20 years. Stakeholder processes were used to developed all these ordinances.

5 Types Of Water Quality Buffers Types Of Water Quality Buffers Lake Norman Mountain Island 1. Water Supply Lake Watershed Buffer (1995 through 1998): They vary in width from 30, 40, 50 and 100 feet or the entire 100-year floodplain depending on the density of the development and its location in the watershed. Lake Wylie

6 Types Of Water Quality Buffers Types Of Water Quality Buffers Davidson 6/11/01 2. Surface Water Improvement and Management (S.W.I.M.) Buffers ( ): They vary in width from 35, 50 and Surface Water Improvement & Management (SWIM Buffer): 1999 through 2000 feet or the entire FEMA Charlotte floodplain 11/15/99 depending on the size of the upstream drainage area. Includes 3 zones with varying uses allowed. The width of the zones within the buffer also varies. Mecklenburg County 11/9/99 Cornelius 12/6/99 Huntersville 10/19/99 Pineville 4/11/00 Mint Hill 7/20/00 Matthews 2/14/00

7 Mecklenburg County 6/30/07 Types Of Water Davidson Quality 6/30/07 Buffers Cornelius 6/30/07 Huntersville 6/30/07 3. Post-Construction Buffers ( ): In general terms, post-construction buffers are an expansion of the 3. Post-Construction Buffer: 2007 through 2008 Charlotte 7/1/08 S.W.I.M. buffer requirements, but in several jurisdictions and watersheds these buffers go significantly beyond the requirements established by S.W.I.M. Mint Hill 6/30/07 Matthews 6/30/07 Pineville 6/30/07

8 Types Of Water Quality Buffers 4. Goose and Six Mile Creek Buffers (2008 and 2009): Also called undisturbed or wildlife buffers. Adopted as part of the post-construction ordinances for the protection of the Carolina heelsplitter.

9 How do I know which buffer applies? The best tool currently available for determining if a buffer requirement might apply to a particular parcel is the Property Ownership and Land Records Information System or POLARIS located at

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19 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Water Quality Buffer Implementation Guidelines

20 How to Determine if a Water Quality Buffer Applies 1. Applicability of Governing Ordinances The first step in determining if a buffer requirement applies to a parcel of land involves reviewing the Applicability and Exemption Sections of all applicable ordinances. Go to (select Regulations, select Buffers & BMPs ). Goose Creek in Mint Hill

21 How to Determine if a Water Quality Buffer Applies 2. Stream Delineation Buffer Type Water Supply Watershed Final Determination Requirement Latest version of the applicable USGS quadrangle map S.W.I.M Mecklenburg County GIS (POLARIS) Post-Construction Certified professional using approved State methodology Undisturbed Certified professional using approved State methodology Goose Creek in Mint Hill

22 How to Determine if a Water Quality Buffer Applies 3. Buffer Area Delineation All buffer areas are measured horizontally on a line perpendicular to the surface water, landward from the top of the bank on each side of a stream, or in the case of a lake buffer from the full pond elevation. Only a survey of the property can identify the actual water quality buffer area. Goose Creek in Mint Hill

23 35 feet Buffer widths must be measured horizontally on a line perpendicular to the surface water. Channel

24 General Rules Just because POLARIS shows a buffer does not mean that a buffer applies.

25 General Rules If more than one buffer applies to the same parcel, the more stringent will govern.

26 General Rules For streams piped prior to the ordinance going into effect, buffers do not apply.

27 General Rules Structures that existed at the time the ordinance went into effect are exempt from requirements. Expansions to these structures must comply.

28 General Rules In S.W.I.M. buffers, you can demolish a structure and rebuild provided you do not increase impervious cover in the buffer. Not so with watershed and post-construction buffers.

29 General Rules Impervious pathways are not allowed in any buffer type

30 General Rules Swimming pools are not allowed in any buffer type. The water portion of the pool does not count as impervious area.

31 General Rules Split rail and other similar type fences are allowed in the buffer but not concrete walls.

32 General Rules Roofed structures (impervious area) cannot be located in a buffer but are allowed over the water s surface outside the buffer if permitted by Duke Power.

33 General Rules 1. Valid building permit exempts development from buffer requirements except for water supply watershed buffers. 2. Properties can be exempt based on the establishment of a vested right (substantial expenditure of resources (time, labor, money) based on a good faith reliance upon having received a valid governmental approval to proceed with a project). 3. Variance is required for buffer disturbances not specifically allowed by the ordinance.

34 Water Supply Watershed Built-Upon Areas Background: Charlotte-Mecklenburg gets its drinking water from the Catawba River lakes along its western border. State and local laws protect these lakes from pollution by regulating activities in the land areas that drain to them, referred to as water supply watershed protection areas. Built-upon area (also called impervious area) is a source of pollution that is controlled by these regulations. Built-upon area is defined as both impervious and partially impervious cover including buildings, pavement, gravel, pervious pavers, recreational facilities (tennis courts, etc.) but does not include wooden slatted decks and the water area of a swimming pool.

35 Water Supply Watershed Protection BUAs Legend Lakes and Streams Major Roads Jurisdiction Boundaries Water Supply Watershed Areas BUA restrictions apply to all properties located in water supply watershed protection areas. The closer a property is to the lake the less allowed BUA. Development that existed prior to ordinance adoption is exempt from requirements. The amount of BUA allowed varies for each property. Property owners that exceed their allowed BUA could be fined and required to remove the additional area.

36 Review recorded plat for BUA restrictions. Plat may be available on POLARIS.

37 Document Research ). Water Supply Watershed Protection BUAs Check amount of impervious area available on the scanned survey located on the Meck. Co. Code Enforcement website at (select Departments, select Code Enforcement (County), select Documents, select Online Document Search ). If new impervious area has been added since this survey or if a survey is not available, a survey should be performed.

38 If no scanned survey is available, an approximation of impervious area is available at (select Maps, select GeoPortal ).

39 Water Supply Watershed Protection BUAs For more information, go to: (select Regulations, select Water Supply Watershed Protection, select Ordinances, select Built-Upon Area restrictions in Water Supply Watersheds ).

40 Questions? Rusty Rozzelle (Program Manager) David Caldwell (Supervisor & Watershed Specialist) John McCulloch (Supervisor) Richard Farmer (Supervisor) Mountain Island Lake

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