Rockingham County began a watershed protection program in 1993 to protect drinking water sources from the risk of pollution. Watershed overlay districts were established to impose higher land use and development standards around and/or upstream from drinking water supplies. All land use activities are regulated in designated drinking supply watersheds except existing development (projects that are built or have established a vested right under North Carolina law). The watershed regulations are found in Chapter 4 and Chapter 8 of the Unified Development Ordinance.
The Rockingham County Planning Department is responsible for Watershed Protection and Stormwater Management for the County's six drinking water supply watersheds. In addition to Watershed Protection duties, the Department is also charged with the enforcement of the Jordan Lake Rules, public education of stormwater issues, detection and elimination of illicit stormwater discharges, and Floodplain Management and permitting. The Planning Department coordinates with other agencies when reviewing plans for site and subdivision development to ensure compliance with local, State and Federal regulations.