Storm Water Education & Resources

The Town of Harrisburg is a member of the Regional Storm Water PartnershStormwater drainage pipe from interior Opens in new windowip (RSWP). The UNCC Ideas Center is the administrator for the Partnership. View the Small-Scale Solutions to Eroding Streambanks (PDF) document from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Backyard Stream Repair Program

About Storm Water

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

Difference Between Wastewater & Storm Water

Wastewater is water that was used and flows from sinks, toilets, washing machines, etc. Storm Water is rain.

Where It Goes

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.

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.

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.

Storm Water Vs. Sanitary Systems

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.
  • It is illegal to dump anything down storm drains in Harrisburg.

Three stormwater drainage pipe below groundWhy Have 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.

Additional Information

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.