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Buffers and Stormwater Control Measures
Buffers and Stormwater Control Measures are effective ways to protect and/or restore our streams, ponds and lakes. Local ordinances explain when buffers and SCMs are required.​

Buffers are “no build zones” along local waterways. The buffer is a strip of land with a mix of grasses, trees and other vegetation. Plants in the buffer stabilize creek banks to reduce erosion, shade the water to keep it from getting too hot, and provide aquatic and wildlife habitat.

Step-by-step explanation of buffer requirements

Use the web to find out if your property has specific buffer requirements​

Watch a video about stream buffers


Buffer along a wetland in Cornelius
Buffer along a wetland in Cornelius


 This detention pond in Hidden Valley is a storm water BMP
This detention pond in Hidden Valley is
a storm water SCM


Buffers are one type of storm water tool used to ​protect streams and lakes.  Other tools are SCMs which would include:

  • wetlands
  • rain gardens/bio-retention cells
  • vegetated swales
  • wet ponds

SCMs do more than improve water quality. They temporarily detain storm water and release it at a slower rate into storm drains, streams, rivers and lakes. This can reduce the risk of erosion and some flooding.  


Storm Water Services capital projects with SCMs

Requirements for mandatory buffers and storm water SCMs are included in the following:

Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM)

Post Construction Controls

Water Supply Watersheds

Huntersville Low Impact Development

More information about Buffers and SCMs
Charlotte-Mecklenburg BMP Standards Manual
Water Quality Buffer Guidelines and Application for Buffer Disturbance  (lake and stream buffers)
City of Charlotte Pilot SCM Program
BMP Inspections outside the City of Charlotte

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