Just as lemons provide an opportunity for lemonade, continued flooding brings an opportunity to improve surface water quality.
Using a mix of federal grants and local storm water fees, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services is reducing flood losses and improving surface water quality at the former Dore Academy site located at 1727 Providence Road.
Dore Academy opened its doors in 1978. Built in a floodplain along Briar Creek, the school was continually threatened by floodwater from heavy rain. The school and government had no way to stop the creek from flooding and in 2011 Dore Academy agreed the best option was to move.
Storm Water Services obtained a federal Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant to help purchase the property. In 2012, the school moved to a new location. In 2013, school buildings were demolished and the land was returned to open space. The design for a new detention basin to temporarily hold and clean storm water runoff from about a half mile of Providence Road was finalized.
The last major step in the multi-year process starts this month, with the construction of the detention basin. Storm water runoff from five acres of the street's hard surface will be piped into the detention pond, and then slowly released into Briar Creek. Reducing the surge of water into the creek decreases bank erosion.
Since the 1990s, Storm Water Services has purchased more than 325 flood-prone houses, apartment buildings, schools and businesses. These buildings were in more than a dozen neighborhoods along numerous creeks in Charlotte and Huntersville. Because of the buyouts, more than 600 families have been moved out of the highest-risk sections of local floodplains. When the buildings are torn down, the resulting open space is used to temporarily store floodwater and improve surface water quality. These voluntary buyouts avoid an estimated $300 million dollars in future flood losses.
Find more information about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services and its efforts to restore floodplains and improve water qualityhere.