Ellerbe Creek Watershed

Land that drains into Ellerbe Creek is known as its watershed. The Ellerbe Creek watershed includes the downtown area north of N.C. 147. Neighborhoods in this watershed include:
  • Old Five Points
  • Old West Durham
  • Parts of Walltown
  • Trinity Heights
  • Trinity Park
Commercial areas include:
  • Ninth Street
  • North Pointe
  • Northgate Mall
Water Impacted
Ellerbe Creek has the highest population density of Durham’s watersheds. Water from Ellerbe Creek flows into Falls Lake. Then it flows into the Neuse River and then the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound before emptying into the ocean.

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.

Stream Water Quality
Stormwater Services staff tracks water quality at 10 sites in Ellerbe Creek. 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 grade. Ellerbe Creek was last given a grade of 75 in 2014. This compares to a "C" letter grade in high school. This grade was given because of:
  • High fecal coliform (a bacteria associated with raw sewage) levels
  • High nutrient levels that can cause too much algae to grow
  • High turbidity
  • Poor diversity of aquatic live
The state decided that these 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.

As a result of the Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination program, 84 sources of pollution were investigated and eliminated during the 2015 reporting year. This is down from 98 investigations during the 2014 reporting year.

Stormwater Projects in Ellerbe Creek
Get information regarding the stormwater projects currently underway in the Ellerbe Creek Watershed.

Get Involved
There are many for you to help protect the health of Ellerbe 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 the 1st weekend in October and Creek Week is the last weekend in March. Email the public education coordinator for details.

Dedicated Groups
You can also join some of the many groups dedicated to protecting the health of our rivers and streams. Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, Friends of South Ellerbe Creek, and the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation are all active in this watershed.