Stormwater Solutions

The New Hanover Soil & Water Conservation District is committed to enhancing water quality throughout the county through land conservation, stormwater management, providing technical support to citizens and organizations, and providing conservation education and outreach activities. In order to alleviate stormwater pollution in our local creeks and rivers, NHSWCD offers a number of programs that offer to pay either partially or fully, depending on location, the installation of an approved best management practice (BMP) such as a rain garden, cistern, wetland, etc.

There are four cost share programs offered to property owners within the county. Three programs can be applied in residential or commercial areas and one is a program for farmers to assist in erosion control or waste management issues. The three programs used for residential and commercial areas are: Heal Our Waterways (HOW), NHC Water Quality Improvement Program (NHC-WQIP), and Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP). Short descriptions of the programs can be found on this brochure or within the tabs at the end of the webpage. The program offered to farmers is called the Agriculture Cost Share Program (ACSP), which uses state appropriated funds for the design and installation of BMPs. More information can be found in the ACSP tab at the bottom of the webpage.

It should be noted that these programs are not used to mitigate drainage or flooding issues and are only used to mitigate water quality issues such as capturing stormwater runoff from roofs and driveways.

For more information on Stormwater Solutions in your community, view the “Stormwater is a Dirty Word” brochure here. For more information on cost share programs, contact 

Please watch this video of a rain garden installation for a resident located in the unincorporated area of New Hanover County. If you live in New Hanover County you may qualify for a rain garden or other type of stormwater catchment device. Click on the tabs below to become familiar with our funding programs and the devices they pay to install on your property.

Stormwater runoff is created when rainfall cannot permeate or filter into the ground or be captured and retained by bodies of water. When rain falls on impermeable surfaces like our driveways, roofs, and roads, the water runs over the environment picking up visible and non-visible pollutants along the way.

In an effort to control stormwater pollution we must consider individual, household, and public behaviors and activities that contribute to these non-point source forms of pollution. Think about it! The following common, individual behaviors have the potential to generate stormwater pollution:

  • Littering
  • Leaving pet waste in a yard or on the street
  • Applying lawn and garden fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides
  • Washing cars in the driveway
  • Changing motor-oil in the driveway
  • Disposing of leftover paint and household chemicals improperly
  • Letting gutter outputs flow over driveways or sidewalks and into storm drains

Stormwater BMPs (Best Management Practices) are control measures a landowner can take to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution from entering our waterways. A BMP can be an action, a structure, or a practice. With land-use change and increased urbanization, more impervious surfaces are created, which then in turn increases the amount of stormwater runoff. When the amount of stormwater runoff increases the quality of the water decreases because more pollutants are picked up across these surfaces. BMPs are designed to reduce the volume of runoff and reduce the influx of non-point source pollutants. There are a variety of BMPs a land owner can consider, but ultimately the site itself will dictate what BMP is best suited to address the actual needs and capabilities of the land.

Some BMPs that can be installed through the cost share programs include:

  • Rain gardens
  • Cisterns
  • Backyard Wetlands
  • Tree Plantings
  • Pervious Pavement

Rain Garden Diagram



It takes individual behavior change and proper practices to reduce or eliminate stormwater pollution. NHSWCD believes it is important for us to educate the community on the pollution potential of some of these common activities, and increase the awareness of the direct link between land activities, rainfall-runoff, storm drains, and our local water resources. Through information sharing and education, we can work together to change these behaviors and preserve our waters.

NHSWCD has helped install numerous BMPs throughout the county through various funding opportunities. The map here highlights many of the BMPs that have been installed throughout the county.


Check out the gallery to see pictures of these projects. Please click the following for more information about our main funding source, the Soil & Water Conservation District exclusive program started right here in New Hanover County called CCAP, or the Community Conservation Assistance Program (see below for more info). For additional resources on BMPs and what you can do to help promote better environmental practices click The EPA’s – National Menu of Stormwater Best Management Practices or contact our staff.

The City of Wilmington has partnered with the New Hanover SWCD and other local non-profit, government and private sector organizations to develop a program aimed at reducing the volume of polluted runoff reaching Bradley and Hewletts Creek. Heal Our Waterways is an effort to educate citizens about the causes and effects of polluted runoff and to help them take action to prevent it. Recently, the New Hanover SWCD has assisted with the installation of several best management practices (BMPs) in Bradley and Hewletts Creek as part of the HOW program. Visit our photo gallery to view photos of the BMPs. If you live in Bradley or Hewletts Creek you could qualify for the Heal Our waterways funding program. The Heal Our Waterways Program funds 100% of the installation costs of an approved stormwater catchment device.

To receive more information about participating in the Heal Our Waterways program, please visit their Take Action page here and fill out the Take Action Form located toward the bottom of the page.

If you are unsure about what watershed you live in you can look your address up using this GIS watersheds map here. For those that live within the municipal limits of the City of Wilmington but not within Bradley or Hewletts Creek, you may qualify under the CCAP funding source. You can find more information about CCAP funding under the CCAP tab below.

For information on how to take care of your rain garden after installation, view the following guide.

Below is a map of the current installed stormwater catchment devices over the past 5 years for the Heal Our Waterways program.

For more information, contact 

This program supports the unincorporated areas of the county with a 50% matching based funding program. NHC will provide up to half of the funding to install an approved Best Management Practice (BMP) device. These devices include rain gardens, swales, cisterns, etc. The goal of the NHC-WQIP is to reduce stormwater pollution in our local creeks to improve water quality!

Funding is specifically for residents in the unincorporated part of the county only. These are residents who do not pay property taxes to a municipality. Interested parties can choose to match 50% of the funds though a monetary payment or pay-in-kind through assisted labor during installation of the BMP. You can choose to be as hands-on or hands -off as you like with the installation!

To apply for the program, fill out the following form. Including pictures of problem areas on your property will also help us understand what stormwater issues you may need help mitigating. Please feel free to include any photos or videos when you send in the application. Send the application to 

CCAP is designed to improve water quality through the installation of stormwater BMPs in residential and commercial areas that have been developed for three years or more. CCAP helps educate residents about local water quality and stormwater management issues through the design and implementation of appropriate stormwater BMPs on residential, public and commercial properties. The program is designed to reimburse applicants up to 75% of the cost for the installation of each BMP.

In 2006 the N.C. General Assembly passed and Governor Easley signed legislation creating the N.C. Community Conservation Assistance Program (CCAP). This law enabled local Soil and Water Conservation Districts to administer the program. CCAP is a voluntary, incentive-based program designed to improve water quality through the installation of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) in residential and commercial areas that have been developed for three years or more. CCAP allows NHSWCD to use State appropriated funds to design appropriate stormwater BMPs on residential, public and commercial properties and will reimburse up to 75% of the cost of installing each BMP.

CCAP contracts are awarded in a two-phase process. First, a completed application with proposed BMP(s) must be ranked by qualified SWCD staff and approved by the Board of Supervisors. Applications are ranked based on several factors that address the proposed BMP’s ability to improve water quality in the county watersheds. If an application is deemed eligible and approved by the Board, a conservation plan is then prepared for the applicant’s property after a series of site visits. Next, the recommended design must be approved by both the Board of Supervisors and the Division of Soil & Water Conservation. If approved, a contract will then be awarded. With the design and specifications in hand, you will be able to install and pay for the BMP (landscapers may be used). Eligible applicants will be reimbursed up to 50% of the pre-established average cost of the BMP. Eligible landowners may include: homeowners, businesses, schools, parks, churches, and community groups such as homeowners associations. Essentially, all private and publicly owned lands that have been developed for three years or longer are eligible for the program.

If you are an interested landowner please click here to download an application. Submit your completed application to our office at 

In New Hanover County, the Agriculture Cost Share Program can assist farmers (including horse farms) and timber owners with installing BMPs, such as erosion control or waste management. Participating agricultural landowners receive 75% of the predetermined average cost of installed BMPs with the remaining 25% paid by farmers directly or through in-kind contributions.

In 1983, an agricultural cost share program was authorized in 16 Districts as a pilot study to address non-point source problems in the nutrient sensitive waters of Jordan Lake, Falls Lake, and the Chowan River. Even though considered innovative, this pilot program was built upon years of successful District/USDA agricultural conservation programs that were begun in the 1930s.

Following the success of the pilot project, the approach was authorized state wide with passage of General Statute 143-215.74. This enabled financial incentives to be provided through North Carolina’s Agriculture Cost Share Program. This program is administered by the Division of Soil and Water Conservation in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It has been applauded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has received wide support from the general public as well as the state’s agricultural community. Due to the program’s success, it has been extended to all 96 Soil and Water Conservation Districts covering the entire state. The program provides local Districts with matching funds (50:50) to hire personnel to plan and install the needed best management practices (BMPs). The Commission allocates cost share funds to local Districts based on the level of state appropriations and water quality protection priorities.

In New Hanover County, the Agriculture Cost Share Program can assist farmers (including horse farms) and timber owners with installing BMPs, such as the erosion control method of no-till farming or animal waste management. Participating agricultural landowners receive 75% of the predetermined average cost of installed BMPs with the remaining 25% paid by farmers directly or through in-kind contributions. There is a yearly cap of $75,000. Some applicants who qualify under the beginning or limited resource farmer statute may receive 90% of predetermined average costs, up to $90,000 per year.

For more information, contact 


Soil and Water Conservation: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 100 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7130 • Fax 910-798-7282
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