Charlotte Douglas International Airport Stormwater Management Strategy

charlotte douglas airport stormwater

Charlotte Douglas International Airport Stormwater Management Strategy

Comprehensive Planning for a Growing Facility

We led the drafting of a comprehensive stormwater management strategy for Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which has experienced rapid growth in recent decades. One of the busiest airports in the U.S., the airport has expanded its facilities multiple times, creating vastly more impervious area. Since 1982, the impervious surface area at the airport has grown 850 percent.

HDR has long assisted the airport with project-specific support for airfield improvements that required compliance with city, state, and federal environmental permitting such as stormwater detention, water quality, stream and wetland impact analysis and permitting.

Beginning in 2013, we led the drafting of a more proactive stormwater management strategy that looked beyond compliance for individual projects. In 2018, the plan was updated for the next five years. An innovative “water quality credit strategy” now bundles all of the airport’s stormwater projects under one umbrella instead of its previous piecemeal approach.

Built-in Capacity for Future Projects

A key consideration in the development of that strategy was minimizing the impact and number of new facilities. Space availability is not a current issue at the airport, but as development continues, space constraints could limit the placement of stormwater projects. Stormwater is now managed within four distinct watersheds that cover the airport’s more than 5,500 acres of land.

The location of newly constructed basins was centralized downstream of planned projects and excess capacity was built in to treat and control the rate of runoff. As future projects are completed, the airport can tap existing capacity instead of constructing new stormwater facilities. For example, on the south side of the airport, a new regional detention basin proposed in the 2018 management plan will handle all of the construction planned in the area through 2023 and beyond.

The airport’s stormwater plan was also designed to be flexible as needs or regulations change. It includes an ESRI geodatabase that captures all the supporting data in a single electronic location. As priorities shift or unforeseen constraints are realized, the geodatabase can quickly re-evaluate the airport’s stormwater management needs. The database also doubles as a tracking tool to log progress on the airport master plan as projects are constructed and associated treatment options are implemented.

Read more about the project in Airport World magazine Issue 5 2019.

charlotte douglas airport stormwater
City of Charlotte

Charlotte, NC
United States