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Little Sugar Creek - Hidden Valley

Stream Restoration and Environmental Restoration

Since its completion nearly ten years ago, the Hidden Valley Ecological Garden / Wellingford Street project in northeast Charlotte has matured nicely. The stream banks are stable and the plants added to the floodplain are thriving.

This project was designed to reduce storm water pollution and erosion, prevent localized flooding and enhance the surrounding community and the environment.

Although the site is owned by Mecklenburg County, it is not a park. Most plants at the site are not mowed, trimmed or manicured. By allowing the plants to grow naturally and largely undisturbed, they absorb some pollutants and help improve the water quality in Little Sugar Creek.

Completed: 2004
Extended maintenance and water quality monitoring continue. 


Students on a tour of the Hidden Valley project
School students on a tour of the
Hidden Valley project



  • Reduce property damage from flooding
  • Create a wetland system
  • Restore stream function and wildlife habitat
  • Stabilize stream banks
  • Decrease pollutants in Little Sugar Creek
  • Improve storm water flow
  • Add to the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhood
  • Provide educational opportunities for schools  
 Aerial of restored stream   Total Cost: $4,415,000 (approximate)

Acquisition of flood-prone land: $1.3 million

Sources of funding to buy property:
   FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant: $784,664
   Storm Water Services fees: $515,336

Stream restoration and water quality enhancements: $3.115 million

Sources of funding for water quality projects:
   NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund: $2.24 million
   Storm Water Services fees: $875,000

Tackling Little Sugar's big problems
This project is located in the headwaters of Little Sugar Creek. It is one of a series of initiatives to improve water quality in a creek surrounded by dense development.

The major goals of the Hidden Valley project were to improve water quality and aquatic habitat by restoring the stream and by retrofitting storm water wetlands and other BMPs in the surrounding floodplain.
Storm Water Services also reduced flood losses by purchasing 20 parcels of land and tearing down 16 homes that had repeatedly flooded. The buyouts provided 13 acres of permanent open space in the floodplain.

The natural twists and turns of Little Sugar Creek were restored and buffers were added along the banks. Trees and shrubs planted in the buffers reduce erosion and provide a place for wildlife to live.

A series of stormwater wetlands and wet ponds was created along Wellingford Street and Mellow Drive. The wetlands remove some pollutants from storm water and can reduce some flood risks by temporarily storing and releasing excess water. A total of 31,000 trees, bushes and other plants were added in the project area.

Both riparian and wetland plants are thriving in the project area. Schools of fish, minnows, insects, frogs, mussels and many more wildlife species are increasingly present throughout this stream and floodplain restoration project.

Retention pond on misty day 
 Restored stream with wildflowers  Wildflowers in project area

Project Manager:

David A. Woodie, P.E.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services

Award received in 2006 for this project:
"Excellence in Environmental Planning and Conservation" - Centralina Council of Governments



Stream with very little vegetation  ​     Stream with lush vegetation 

2006 - stream work finished and
floodplain plants just starting to grow


2012 - plants that were added
to floodplain are green and healthy