North Carolina Partners Analyze and Address Stormwater Pollution Threats
The Takeaway: Participants in this research reserve partnership project sized up the nature of the threat and produced resources designed to lessen risks for outdoor-recreation fans and the Rachel Carson portion of the North Carolina Research Reserve.
The North Carolina community of Beaufort is growing, but its stormwater and wastewater infrastructure has not kept pace. This means that tidally influenced stormwater overflows sometimes spill bacteria and harmful nutrients into nearby waters, which could lead to swimming and fishing closures, as well as ecosystem threats.
The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve worked with the community and local schools to quantify the problems and find solutions. This multi-partner project was made possible by a $749,823 grant provided by the research reserve system’s Science Collaborative program.
The project team’s data on stormwater discharge and bacteria helped Beaufort secure funding toward water infrastructure upgrades. Other team products improved local understanding of the issue and aided water-quality analysis efforts.
- Adopt a Drain, a citizen-science app to help quantify the volume of plastics entering storm drains
- Lesson plans used by middle school and high school students to explore stormwater-, sunscreen-, and microplastics-pollution issues
- Refined sampling, modeling, and analytical approaches, which other low-lying coastal communities also can use to better address their stormwater-pollution problems
- A training for ecosystem scientists on molecular diagnostic techniques
- Journal articles summarizing the scientific findings
The research reserve system’s Science Collaborative program is co-administered by NOAA and the University of Michigan. To learn more about the project and its products, view this site. (2022)
Partners: Beaufort Middle School, Duke University Marine Lab’s Community Science Initiative, NOAA Science Collaborative, North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Beaufort Middle School, Duke University Marine Lab’s Community Science Initiative, North Carolina Scientific Research and Education Network, Town of BeaufortPRINT