Stirrup Iron Creek

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Water Impacted

Land that drains into Stirrup Iron Creek is known as its watershed. The Stirrup Iron Creek watershed lies east of Miami Boulevard in Research Triangle Park and continues north to U.S. Highway 70. Only a portion of the watershed lies within Durham.

Water from Stirrup Iron Creek flows to Lake Crabtree and then Crabtree Creek. Then it flows into the Neuse River and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound before emptying into the ocean.

Get Involved

There are many ways for you to help protect the health of Stirrup Iron Creek. You can adopt a portion of the creek or volunteer to label storm drains. There are also 2 major stream clean-ups each year. Big Sweep is in October and Creek Week is in March. Email the public education coordinator for details.

You can also join one of the many groups dedicated to protecting the health of our rivers and streams. Sound Rivers is 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 grade. Stirrup Iron Creek was last given a score of 66 in 2021. This compares to a "D" letter grade. This was down from the grade received in 2019 which was a 67. This low score was given because of:

  • Good turbidity levels
  • Fair nutrient levels
  • Poor bacteria levels

Water from Stirrup Iron Creek flows into the Neuse River. This river has recently had problems caused by extra nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus). The State has created a special set of rules, known as the Nutrient Sensitive Waters Management Strategy. Because of this, the City also carefully tracks nutrients in Stirrup Iron Creek.

These water quality concerns are not enough to keep Stirrup Iron Creek from its intended uses by people and wildlife. The state has not put any portions of Stirrup Iron Creek in Durham on a list of impaired water bodies, also known as the 303(d) list.

Water Pollution Investigations

In the 2021 reporting year, staff found 1 pollution source during investigations. This pollution source was an illicit discharge of a granular algaecide.

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 Stirrup Iron Creek. Residents can also call the Stormwater Hotline (919-560-SWIM) to report water pollution.


Past summaries on the health of Stirrup Iron Creek.