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Burnt Mill Creek, Wilmington NC

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A new partnership with DREAMS of Wilmington and New Hanover High School will incorporate youth education with on-site stormwater retrofits.

PAH Fact Sheet - sources, strategies to reduce risks

PAH presentation from 2013 WRRI Conference

BMP Design Plans:



Technical Reports


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Stonesthrow Planting Restoration efforts continue in Burnt Mill Creek (BMC) Watershed as a result of leadership from citizens, businesses, local community leaders and state agencies.  Excessive stormwater flows and PAHs (polcyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) that are carried into the creek by stormwater are the main impairing factors for BMC.  

The latest projects include street retrofits in the Bottoms neighborhood.  The goal is to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff and pollution reaching the creek.  Three different kinds of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) are being used: 

(raingardens or bioretention), permeable pavement, and tree boxes. 


Bioretention "bump-outs" have been installed on Dock St. by City of Wilmington staff, while permeable parking stalls and tree boxes have been installed on 12th St.  Cape Fear River Watch installed the plants with help from UNC-Wilmington's women's rugby team.  NCSU Engineers monitored performance of the BMPs.  Another bioretention cell was constructed at the corner of 9th and Anne Streets in spring 2013.

The work was funded by a grant from US Environmental Protection Agency and the NC Division of Water Quality.  The design for these projects was funded by a grant from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund.  Another design was developed for the New Hanover High School parking lot and a grant has been submitted to EPA to construct that bioretention (or raingarden.) 

This parking lot  at NH High School could soon have raingardens between the parking spaces.


  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a class of petroleum chemicals
  • A fact sheet about PAHs and how to reduce the risk of PAH pollution in urban waters was published by Cooperative Extension. 
  • PAHs and excessive stormwater flows are the main impairing factors for Burnt Mill Creek. 
  • New research indicates that eliminating use of coal tar based sealants on asphalt parking lots, and treating storm water running off parking lots are top strategies for reducing PAHs entering waterways. 
  • Apartment buildings are a top priority for eliminating the use of coal tar based sealants.  USGS has identified a high risk of ingestion of carcinogenic dust by infants and children who live adjacent to lots sealed with coal tar based sealant.

Previous BMP Installations

A previousUS EPA grant from 2004-2008 was used to install Best Management Practices (BMPs) and educate watershed residents.

BMPs have been installed at the Wilmington Family YMCA,  Stonesthrow Condominiums, Port City Java Market Street, Mary Bridger Park, Gregory Elementary School, Williston Middle School, the Bottoms Family Neighborhood Center, Fannie Norwood Home, Anderson Tabernacle, and many residential homes in the Bottoms neighborhood within Burnt Mill Creek.

Check out our many BMP pictures here.

A partnership with The Bottom Neighborhood Empowerment Association, a community advocacy group in the oldest part of Wilmington, allowed us to work with the community to hold workshops.  Citizens learned how to help beautify their neighborhood and reduce stormwater runoff pollution through the installation of backyard rain gardens and rain barrels.  On the BEG’s advice, the project team installed rain gardens in neighborhood public spaces first.  These allowed people to learn about the project and BMPs. 

Community members were honored by the City of Wilmington at a ceremony for installing 36 rain barrels and 12 rain gardens in their own yards throughout the neighborhood.

Restoration of the Burnt Mill Creek Watershed will move forward as more citizens and business owners step up to the plate to participate.

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