Stormwater and runoff are the primary reason that most urban and suburban streams in the Catawba-Wateree basin fail to meet basic water quality standards. As the region grows, these problems will become more prevalent unless we encourage low-impact development for future growth.
The largest urban center in the Catawba-Wateree basin is Charlotte, which is located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The most recent data (reported in January 2015) indicate that none of the streams in Mecklenburg County fully meet the water quality standards. Most of the streams in rural and suburban areas partially meet the standards and most the urban streams fail to meet the standards.
The Stream Use Support Index is based on a compilation of a variety of factors, including measurements of fecal coliform bacteria, the presence of various common pollutants, and the status of the biological habitat. Mecklenburg County has produced an excellent video explaining how they assess the quality of the water in local creeks.
It is possible to restore urban streams, but it is an expensive process. A better option is to prevent problems by encouraging new development to minimize its impact on streams through use of low-impact design techniques. Common low-impact design techniques include bigger buffers around creeks, greenways along waterways, less impervious area, and more mixed use development. Fortunately, most people find that low-impact development is not only better for the environment, but also a nicer place to live and work.