RiverLink is sharing stormwater stories with the Reduce Rain Runoff campaign

The nonprofit is spreading the word about protecting the French Broad River with monthly resources and local stories.

Pendland Creek during rain and flooding. The green infrastructure on New Belgium Brewing's campus helps during the rain event.

Green infrastructure at New Belgium Brewing does its job during flooding.

Photo via RiverLink

At the beginning of this year, environmental nonprofit RiverLink launched the Reduce Rain Runoff campaign to educate Asheville on stormwater runoff, which threatens the health of the French Broad River. The campaign includes monthly resources as well as stories from local residents + businesses to spread the word about the issue and how to take action.

So as RiverLink dives into the new series, we’d thought we’d explore some of the ways that runoff affects the area and how you can help the French Broad Watershed weather the storm.

When it rains, it pours

The French Broad River is about 219 miles long, and about 4,000 miles of rivers + streams across eight counties feed into it. This expanse of rivers and streams are fed by rainwater — but they’re also fed by stormwater runoff.

As rain flows quickly off rooftops and parking lots, it passes through drains and ditches and falls untreated into the river. This stormwater runoff contributes to flooding, erosion, and pollution.

About 55% of the rainfall in developed urban areas becomes runoff (compared with 10% in undeveloped areas). Buncombe County has 100,000+ rooftops that create 8.6 billion gallons of roof runoff — and Buncombe and its surrounding counties expect a 40% population increase by 2040, which means more roofs, more roads, more parking lots.

Rain cisterns outside Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville

Sunny Point Cafe resolved its flooding issues by installing rain barrels.

Photo courtesy of RiverLink

Well, what can we do about it?

Great question. Because we’re not here to put a damper on things or rain on your parade (okay, we’ll stop). There are folks all over the area addressing stormwater issues on their personal or business’ properties, and their solutions aren’t difficult to incorporate yourself.

Green infrastructure, as opposed to gutters + pipes, captures rainwater where it falls to soak into the ground naturally. Setting up rain gardens or rain barrels (like Sunny Point Cafe did) can help keep the local watershed right as rain.

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