Urban Sprawl, the outward spreading of a city and its suburbs, worsens traffic, increases vehicle miles traveled and ultimately degrades air and water quality. The Charlotte metropolitan area, one of the country’s fastest growing regions, has witnessed exponential development in the past several years. A recent Urban Institute study shows a 47% increase in the Charlotte region’s population by 2030.
How Urban Sprawl Impacts Air Quality
Sprawl increases traffic causing more tailpipe emissions of particle pollution and harmful chemicals that contribute to ground-level ozone. Construction from sprawl development brings hundreds of heavy duty diesel-powered equipment to knock down homes and buildings, and to pave over the land. Diesel emissions contribute to ozone and particle pollution, and contain over 40 air toxins, many identified as carcinogens. These pollutants contribute to North Carolina’s already degrading air quality, impacting the health of our communities.
How Urban Sprawl Impacts Water Quality
Urban sprawl threatens the health of the regions lakes, rivers and streams. One inch of rainfall on an acre of woods produces no runoff. However, the same one inch of rainfall on one acre of asphalt will produce about 26,000 gallons of runoff.
Sediment carried by storm-water runoff from construction sites in North Carolina has been documented as the leading source of non-point source pollution to rivers throughout the state. Other water pollution from development includes bacteria, metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and petroleum.
For more information on Urban Sprawl & Water Quality visit the Catawba Riverkeeper’s webpage, Threats to Our Lake & Water.