Stormwater Education & Resources

The storm water drainage system is a complicated network of pipes, ditches and streams.
The storm water drainage system is a complicated network of pipes, ditches and streams.
The Town of Harrisburg is a member of the Regional Storm Water Partnership (RSWP).  The UNCC Ideas Center is the administrator for the Partnership

The RSWP will hold a Tech Talk March 8, 9-11 a.m. at the UNC Charlotte Center city Building. Download the flyer.

View document: Small-Scale Solutions to Eroding Streambanks

Source: NC Cooperative Extension Backyard Stream Repair Program

Where does the rain go?
All residents and property owners in the Town of Harrisburg can play a part in stormwater management by  in learning about our local water resources, how we affect water quality and flooding potential and what we can do to minimize pollution and damage.

What’s the difference between wastewater and storm water?
Wastewater is water that was used and flows from sinks, toilets, washing machines, etc. Storm water is rain.

Where does it go?
When you wash your clothes or take a bath the water that goes down the drain flows through a complicated system of pipes to the wastewater treatment plant. This is called the sanitary sewer system. The same is not true for the storm drains. In Harrisburg, all storm drains flow directly to our creeks and lakes through the storm water drainage system.

What is the storm water drainage system?
The storm water drainage system consists of pipes, roadside ditches, backyard streams, under-road culverts, storm drains and large flowing creeks. Storm water enters the system through grates along roadsides and in yards or by running off directly to creeks, ponds or lakes. As it flows through the drainage system, storm water can pick up anything in its path including: oil, dirt litter, leaves, etc. Unfortunately, all this storm water pollution ends up in our creeks and lakes.

The storm water drainage system and sanitary sewer system usually work well to carry away the different types of water. The problem comes when pollution ends up in the storm water drainage system and not in the sanitary sewer system.

What’s the difference?
Sanitary Sewer System

  • Water here is treated at a wastewater treatment plant. 
  • The water in this system comes from sinks, toilets, showers, washing machines, etc.
  • This system is made up of a complicated system of pipes that all lead to a wastewater treatment plant. Water is treated through a complicated process before being released back into the creeks.

Storm Water Drainage System

  • Water in this system drains directly to creeks and lakes and is never treated.
  • Water here should only come from the clouds as rain.
  • This system is made up of man-made storm drains, pipes and ditches and natural streams and creeks.


There is a difference between the Sanitary Sewer System, the Water Supply System and the Storm Water Drainage System.

All storm drains flow directly to our creeks.

Storm water can be polluted with oil, dirt, trash, etc.

In Harrisburg it is illegal to dump anything down storm drains.

Underground pipes and open-air streams make up the majority of the storm water drainage system.
Underground pipes and open-air streams make up the majority of the storm water drainage system.
Why is there a drainage system?
Most of our storm water drainage system in made up of natural creeks and streams. People have added man-made drainage to help convey storm water when it rains. Its primary function is to reduce flooding, but also to direct streams under roads.

Can you connect the storm water drainage system to the sanitary sewer system so that storm water pollution is

Some municipalities have connected systems.It would be very expensive to connect the systems in our highly urbanized community and build many more treatment plants. During big storms, treatment plants would not be able to handle floodwaters.

To Learn More:
In Harrisburg, the sanitary sewer and the drinking water supply are managed by the Public Works Department. For more information regarding the storm drain system including blockages, flooding and service requests, call 704-455-5614.