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. This includes Treyburn and other northern communities.

Water from the Little River flows into Falls Lake. From there it flows into the Neuse River and then the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound before emptying into the ocean.

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 91 in 2016. This compares to an "A" letter grade. This is down from a 95 in 2014. The state has not put any portions of the Little River in Durham on a list of impaired water bodies, also known as the 303(d) list.


Water Quality Investigations


In the 2016-2017 reporting year, two sources of pollution were found in the Little River watershed. They included:
  • sediment
  • sewage
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. Citizens 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.

Get Involved


There are many ways for you to help protect the health of Little River. 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.

You can also join some of the many groups dedicated to protecting the health of our rivers and streams. The Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation is active in this watershed.