Ellerbe Creek Watershed

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Water Impacted

Ellerbe Creek has the highest population density of Durham’s watersheds. Water from Ellerbe Creek flows into Falls Lake, then it follows the Neuse River to the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound before emptying into the ocean. 

Water quality concerns keep Ellerbe Creek from its intended uses by people and wildlife. The State has added the creek to a list of impaired water bodies, also known as the 303(d) list. This means the City will need to take steps to find and reduce sources of pollution in the creek. 

Get Involved

There are many ways for you to help protect the health of Ellerbe Creek. You can adopt a drain or participate with NC Stream Watch. There are also two major stream clean-ups each year. Big Sweep is the 1st weekend in October and Creek Week is the third week in March. Email the public education coordinator for details.

You can also join some of the many groups dedicated to protecting the health of our rivers and streams. Ellerbe Creek Watershed AssociationFriends of South Ellerbe Creek, and Sound Rivers are all active in this watershed.

Water Quality

The health and cleanliness of the watershed are reported in Durham’s annual State of Our Streams Report. In years when staff is able to take a wide variety of tests, the watershed is also given a score. Ellerbe Creek was last given a grade of 73 in 2021. This compares to a "C" letter grade. This is the same grade it received in 2020. You can find previous State of Our Streams reports at the bottom of this webpage.

Water Pollution Investigations

58 sources of pollution were investigated and eliminated during the 2021 reporting year. These investigations were related to:

  • private sanitary sewer discharges
  • erosion and sediment discharges
  • petroleum spills
  • illicit mobile car washing
  • public sanitary sewer discharges

Watershed Improvement Plan

This plan is designed to further evaluate pollution sources and identify specific projects and measures to prevent future water pollution and help repair current problems. The final goal of this plan is the development of an implementation strategy.

Learn more about other stormwater projects currently underway in the Ellerbe Creek Watershed.

See past Ellerbe Creek report cards: