The Town of Nags Head's Stormwater Management Program operates as a dedicated capital reserve fund that currently generates revenues of approximately $234,660 annually. These funds are used for personnel and equipment hours, engineering studies and project design, and contracted services for projects too large to be completed by Town forces. Unexpended Stormwater Capital Reserve Funds are carried forward to the next fiscal year and are available for operation, maintenance, engineering, and construction. Work is performed by the Town's Facilities Maintenance personnel and typically takes place between October and April each year to work on drainage maintenance projects, routine maintenance and emergencies that may arise throughout Town.
Over the past 12 months, the Town has experienced a significant amount of rainfall. From Tropical Storm Hermine to Hurricane Matthew, to the extraordinary storms from July and August 2017, rainfall and flooding have been the main topic of conversation. We have received many inquiries as to why the flooding is occurring. The explanation is not always simple, but the following describes several of the main contributing factors.
Flooding typically occurs in our area when large amounts of rain falls over a short period of time from a single, heavy storm, tropical system, or hurricane. After these storms, we rely on a man-made flood control system to drain excess water from the low, flat lands. Existing surface waters levels (i.e. ocean or sound), impact the ability of the connecting drainage systems to receive or store new rainfall. If the surface water conditions are elevated, this impacts the drainage system's ability to transport additional water. If the underground water table is high, water cannot soak into the already saturated ground. We have observed these conditions occurring simultaneously, which has led to rainfall in streets, swales, yards and low-lying areas.
A majority of the existing development is concentrated in the lower-lying areas close to sea level. This is different from inland areas where watersheds have a natural fall line that directs run-off into creeks, streams, and rivers, which then carry excess water downstream. In our area, run-off will collect and stand wherever the ground is saturated, where run-off cannot access natural or man-made drainages, or along impervious surfaces such as roadways and parking lots where absorption is restricted.
What has the Town been doing about this? We have been working on many fronts to address flooding impacts. The following summarizes the recent progress:
- Drainage Maintenance - The Town has been conducting additional drainage maintenance over the course of the past several months. Activities include debris removal, selective vegetative removal, sediment removal, storm pipe jetting, and emergency repair work. The Town has also been coordinating with agencies such as the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to assist in this effort. Click here to view a map providing an overview of work conducted in the northern end of Nags Head and work conducted in the middle of the town.
- Aquatic Weed Assistance - Aquatic weed infestations were expansive this past summer along a significant length of the Town's open channel drainage infrastructure, obstructing flow and, in some cases, resulting in localized upstream flooding. Financial assistance and operational support through a cost-share arrangement are available through the NC Department Environmental Quality Aquatic Weed Program.
- Scheduled Drainage Projects for FY 17-18 – Four separate drainage projects have either been scheduled for FY 17/18 or carried over from the FY 16/17:
- Soundside Road storm pipe replacement
- Mall Drive storm pipe replacement and upgrade
- Vista Colony groundwater lowering system conversion
- Cross street culvert pipe replacement on South Old Oregon Inlet Road.
- Additional Remedial Drainage Projects – Based upon the saturated conditions recently observed, the Town compiled an additional list of remedial projects that could be implemented rapidly and without extensive survey and/or design services. The projects were ranked according to a pre-defined set of criteria with projected costs and presented to the Board of Commissioners in September 2017. A minimum of seven additional projects were added, pending available funds, to the existing FY 17/18 project listing and will be competitively bid for potential implementation this fall. Once a responsible low-bidder is chosen for construction, the Town will host a public meeting to identify the areas of proposed work, projected work schedule, and expected construction conditions.
- Stormwater Master Plan - The Town has recently begun the second phase of a comprehensive Stormwater Management plan update via the development of a 10 year Capital Improvement Project (CIP) program. The scope of work will be performed by an outside engineering team to prioritize stormwater maintenance and capital projects based upon a select set of criteria ( i.e. frequency of flooding, system condition, water quality, etc.). The CIP program deliverable is intended to serve as a "living document" so that the Town can update the document as projects are completed and new ones are added. The consulting team will be conducting field visits and meeting with Town staff to observe existing drainage conditions and to obtain background information for the preparation of the development of this plan.
- Stormwater Ordinance Updates- The Town has received feedback from residents and has identified opportunities to improve provisions of the Stormwater, Fill and Runoff Management of the Town Code of Ordinances. Preliminary discussions have been conducted with both the Town's Planning Board and Board of Commissioners to receive feedback prior to commencing with the formal text amendment process.
- Stormwater Committee Formation- A Stormwater Management working group was formed in 2014 under the direction of Commissioner Marvin Demers for the development of a strategic plan for stormwater management. This working group is being expanded to Nags Head citizens through by establishing a steering committee from a cross-section of the community.
- Emergency Floodwater Discharge-The Town recently received permit approval for the implementation of an Emergency Floodwater Discharge Plan, when emergency conditions warrant.
Understanding our way of life is knowing we live in a region where seasonal rains fall over low, flat lands that offer little natural drainage. You can help decrease the odds that your community will flood by learning about what you can do to manage stormwater at its source and reporting or correcting problems. Stormwater management is a shared responsibility and you can help make a difference