Little River

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Where is Little River?

Land that drains into Little River is known as its watershed. Only small portions of the City of Durham lie within the Little River watershed, including Treyburn and other northern communities.

Water from the Little River flows into Falls Lake and follows the Neuse River into the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound before emptying into the ocean.

Get Involved

There are many ways for you to help protect the health of Little River.  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. Sound Rivers is active in this watershed.

Stormwater Services encourages neighbors to discuss and discourage putting trash, wash water, grease, or other pollution into storm drains. Anything that goes into storm drains does not get treated and, in this watershed, eventually washes into the Little River. Residents can also call the Stormwater Hotline (560-SWIM) to report water pollution.

Little River Conservation Plan

This plan was created by the Upper Neuse River Basin Association and the Triangle J Council of Governments for the Eno River Association. This plan identifies places that are most important to protect water quality as well as creek and streamside habitats in the Little River watershed. Protecting water quality in the Little River also protects downstream waters like the Eno River and Falls Lake.

Water Quality

Stormwater Services staff tracks water quality at two sites on the Little River. The first site is in Durham. The second site is a reference site in Orange County. Reference sites allow staff to compare streams in the city to streams in more rural areas. The health and cleanliness of the watershed is 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. The Little River was last given a score of 80 in 2020. This compares to a "B" letter grade. This is down from 89 in 2018. This was due to:

  • Poor bacteria levels
  • Good nutrient levels
  • Fair turbidity levels
  • Excellent aquatic life levels

See past summaries: 

Water Quality Investigations

In the 2020 reporting year, two sources of pollution were found in the Little River watershed. These were a sediment and erosion discharge and a city sanitary sewer spill.