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China Grove focuses attention on upcoming stormwater audit

By Samuel Motley

intern@salisburypost.com  

CHINA GROVE — Assistant Town Manager Franklin Gover is drumming up concerns about China Grove’s preparation for a 2020 stormwater audit.

The audit will review the town’s stormwater permit and will be conducted by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. The audit will review all town records, look at how the program is managed and visit sites.

The town renewed its permit in 2018, it’s on a short cycle, meaning the DEQ is auditing two years into the permit, Gover said. The town was issued its first stormwater permit in 2007 because of its population density.

Gover said during last week’s Town Council meeting that “Hickory and Asheville both got dinged pretty hard” in audits last year.

“They got notice of violation,” he said, meaning the cities were ignoring permit requirements.

Gover said this is one of two possible penalties China Grove can incur. The other, “notice of deficiency,” means a town or city is not doing enough.

“It makes me nervous that Hickory and Asheville got notice of violation,” Gover said. “Those are multimillion-dollar budgets.”

The 2020 audit will look for signs of illicit discharge, which is “basically anything that is going in our storm-drain system that is not rainwater,” Gover said. However, there are exceptions — including discharges from firefighting, water-main breaks and crawl-space water, he said.

In order to comply, the town needs to meet six minimum control measures:
• Public education and outreach.
• Public participation and involvement.
• Illicit discharge detention and elimination.
• Construction site runoff controls.
• Postconstruction runoff controls.
• Pollution prevention and good housekeeping of municipal facilities.

“I want China Grove to be a model for all small towns,” Gover said in an interview with the Post.

As such, the town began preparing for the audit by implementing the internal mechanisms and policies necessary for good stormwater practices, Gover said.

Initial steps include:

• Staff participation in an upcoming class — set for May 21 and hosted by Regional Stormwater Partnership of the Carolinas — to respond to residents’ complaints.
• Increasing the number of active investigations to document illicit discharge.
• Increasing public outreach through the creation of brochures and a webpage.
• Increasing public involvement through Eagle Scout projects aimed at adopting streams and adding markers for drains and catch basins.
• Educating businesses, developers and locals about proper stormwater practices.
• Adding utility bill inserts starting in mid- to late summer.
• Sponsoring an information booth for China Grove Farmers Day on July 20.

China Grove is part of the Phase II National Stormwater Permit Program, which was implemented in 1999. The program requires towns with populations of 100,000 or fewer to regulate stormwater discharge. Phase I required cities with more than 100,000 people to regulate stormwater and was implemented in 1990.

Inquiries about China Grove’s stormwater program and stormwater discharge can be made to stormwater@chinagrovenc.gov.

Contact newsroom intern Samuel Motley at 704-797-4264.

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