Durham's Watersheds

A watershed is the land area that drains water and the pollution it carries to a specific water body.

Most of the creeks in Durham begin within the city. Because of this, the everyday activities of residents and businesses play an important role in how clean our creeks are.


When rain falls on land, it runs downhill until it joins a creek. Sometimes this water, or stormwater, takes a shortcut through a storm drain. Storm drains lead straight to the nearest body of water (stormwater is not treated at a waste water plant). As stormwater flows it can pick up litter, dirt, and other pollution that hurts our creeks.

Water Impacted

Since Durham sits on top of a ridge, stormwater runs down either side of the ridge into a major river basin. Waters in the southwest of Durham generally flow to Jordan Lake (a potential source for our drinking water), then Cape Fear River, and then into the Atlantic Ocean.

In the northeast water flows to Falls Lake, the Neuse River, the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound, and then the ocean. (Stirrup Iron Creek, also in east Durham, flows into Crabtree Creek and then to the Neuse River.) This means any water pollution we create affects a lot of people.


In the map below, the colored areas around a creek show its watershed. Find out which watershed you live in. Then navigate through it in the map to learn more about how clean your creek is, or see its Watershed Improvement Plan.
Durham Watersheds Map