New Hope Creek & Little Creek Watershed Improvement Plan (SP-2019-01)

Project Manager

Sandra Wilbur | 919-560-4326, [email protected]

Project Status


Project Description 

The Public Works Department worked with a consultant team led by AECOM to prepare an engineering study and assessment of the New Hope Creek and Little Creek watersheds. This Watershed Improvement Plan is part of the City of Durham’s efforts to improve the health of our creeks and to comply with water quality regulations. For information, email [email protected] or Sandra Wilbur.

Descripción del Proyecto

La División de los Servicios de Aguas Pluviales y GIS del Departamento de Obras Públicas (Stormwater and GIS Services – Department of Public Works) hacen estudios del río y tierra en las cuencas hidrográficas de New Hope Creek y Little Creek para aprender las condiciones ambientales. La evaluación es como un examen de doctor para la salud de las cuencas y sus ríos. La información de los estudios ayudará a los esfuerzos de la Ciudad de Durham para preparar un plan para identifica importantes proyectos de restauración que mejorarán la calidad del agua y la salud de la cuenca del New Hope Creek y Little Creek. La Ciudad trabajó con un equipo de las compañías ingenieros y científicos, AECOM y Wildlands Engineering, para este proyecto. 

Watershed Information 

New Hope Creek and Little Creek watersheds are part of the Cape Fear River Basin, which discharges into the Atlantic Ocean near Wilmington, NC. Approximately 20 square miles of the greater New Hope Creek watershed lies within Durham city limits. The Little Creek watershed has approximately 1.5 square miles of the watershed located within the current Durham City Limits. This watershed improvement plan will include evaluation of the Little Creek watershed as well as the greater New Hope Creek watershed, which includes Sandy Creek, Mud Creek, and New Hope Creek proper. Together these watersheds drain into the New Hope Arm of B. Everett Jordan Lake in Durham County. The lower portions of these watersheds contain large tracts of land that are under Federal protection for B. Everett Jordan Lake. Jordan Lake is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reservoir that was impounded in 1983 to provide flood control, water supply, protection of water quality downstream, fish and wildlife conservation, and recreation. 

The greater New Hope Creek watershed is subject to several regulatory protection programs. New Hope Creek has appeared on the State 303(d) list of impaired streams due to exceeding criteria for benthos. Mud Creek and Sandy Creek are Water Supply-V, Nutrient Sensitive Waters (WS-V; NSW) and New Hope Creek in Durham County is classified as WS-V from its source to Old Chapel Hill Road in Durham County. From Old Chapel Hill Road to Stagecoach Road New Hope Creek is classified as Water Supply-IV Nutrient Sensitive Water (WS-IV; NSW). Little Creek is classified as WS-IV Nutrient Sensitive Water from the confluence of Booker Creek and Bolin Creek in Orange County to a point 0.7 mile downstream of Farrington Road in Durham County. Jordan Lake has been declared a Nutrient Sensitive Water (NSW) and is subject to the Jordan Lake Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for nutrients in order to meet the water quality criterion for chlorophyll-a. The Jordan Lake Nutrient Management Strategy (Jordan Lake Rules) was developed to restore and maintain water quality, protect the lake’s classified uses and maintain or enhance protections currently implemented by local governments in existing water supply watersheds. In brief, the Jordan Lake Rules require reductions of nitrogen and phosphorus loading into the lake. Additional information about the Jordan Lake Rules may be obtained from the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) | .

New Hope Creek & Little Creek Field Assessment

The Stormwater and GIS Services Division (Department of Public Works) will work with the consultant team to conduct an assessment of the New Hope Creek & Little Creek watersheds. An assessment is like a health check-up for a watershed and its streams. This assessment will evaluate existing stream conditions and water quality throughout the watershed to identify potential projects to improve the health of these watersheds and create value for the community. Field work is scheduled to begin December 16, 2019 and will run through February, 2020. Field workers will wear safety vests and carry identifying credentials and they will also have project information sheets available upon request.

Additional Project Information

Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) (PDF) can be physical devices (e.g. stormwater ponds) or activities (e.g. picking up pet waste) that protect the environment from stormwater pollution. SCMs can be used to prevent, reduce or offset stormwater runoff and pollution. They are also referred to as “Best Management Practices” or BMPs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines BMPs as “techniques, measures or structural controls that are used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of storm water runoff in the most cost-effective manner.”


Watershed Assessment Report

The New Hope Creek & Little Creek Watershed Assessment Report presents a comprehensive review of the City of Durham’s water quality monitoring data, existing and future land use, results of field assessments for streams and SCMs, and identification of impacts and sources to watershed functions. Pilot Study Areas and preliminary project opportunities are also identified.

Watershed Assessment Report - October 2020

Watershed Improvement Plan 

The Watershed Improvement Plan is a comprehensive summary of the project. It contains information about the methods used throughout the project and describes the findings from the study. 

Volume I - Executive Summary | August 2021

Volume II - Watershed Improvement Plan | August 2021

Volume III - Technical Appendices | August 2021


The purpose of the Riparian Area Management Plan (RAMP) is to identify, describe, and encourage maintenance practices that protect or enhance areas along streams to improve water quality and watershed health. The RAMP focuses on stream-side property that is either owned by the city or maintained by the city, such as utility easements, greenways, parks, trails, and facilities. The recommendations contained in the RAMP are intended for City maintenance staff who routinely operate in or maintain these areas; however, the recommendations may be useful to other, non-city groups who own or maintain land along streams or other riparian areas. The RAMP document is regularly reassessed and updated as part of the watershed planning process to reflect the City’s goals of supporting an equitable implementation of maintenance practices along riparian areas to support biodiversity and water quality.

Riparian Area Management Plan | May 2021 (PDF)


The Critical Area Protection Plan (CAPP) identifies and prioritizes high-quality riparian preservation projects on private property throughout Durham. Properties were evaluated based on criteria that would enhance water quality and watershed health. The CAPP covers the entire city and provides an evaluation and summary of high-quality privately owned riparian buffer areas in Ellerbe Creek, Third Fork Creek, Northeast Creek, Crooked Creek, Little Lick Creek, Eno River, New Hope Creek, and Little Creek.

Critical Area Protection Plan | March 2021 (PDF)

Project Fact Sheets, Press Releases, Social Media

Virtual Public Info Sessions


June 29, 2021

Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) Presentation

December 4, 2019



Key project dates
  • Advertisement: 11/14/2018
  • Pre-Submittal Conference: 11/29/2018
  • Submittal Deadline: 12/18/2018
  • Proposal review completion: 1/8/2019
  • Interviews: 1/15/2019
  • Notice of Intent to Award: 7/9/2019
  • Notice to Proceed: July 2019