Panther Creek

Land that drains into Panther Creek is known as its watershed. The Panther Creek watershed is located in the northeastern part of Durham, south of Geer Street. It is less developed than most of the city, although this is quickly changing as new construction projects have begun south of Interstate 85.

Water from Panther Creek flows into Falls Lake. Then it flows into the Neuse River and then the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound before emptying into the ocean.

Stream Water Quality


Stormwater Services staff tracks water quality at one site in Panther 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 score. Panther Creek was last given a score of 79 in 2015. This compares to a "C" letter grade. Panther Creek's high fecal coliform bacteria levels contributed to this score. 

Water from Panther Creek flows into Falls Lake. This lake 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 Falls Lake Nutrient Management Strategy. Once water leaves Falls Lake it flows into the Neuse River. This river also has too many nutrients and a Nutrient Sensitive Waters Management Strategy. Because of this, the city carefully tracks nutrients in Panther Creek.

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

Stormwater Projects in Panther Creek


Water Pollution Investigations


Stormwater Services staff investigates water pollution reported by other city employees and Durham residents. In the 2015-2016 reporting year, staff investigated and controlled two sources of water pollution in the Panther Creek watershed. They included sewage and petroleum. 

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 Panther Creek. Citizens can also call the Stormwater Hotline (919-560-SWIM) to report water pollution.

Algal Turf Scrubber

The City started a study testing an innovative technology called the Algal Turf Scurbber®, or ATS™, to try and remove nutrients from Falls Lake. The ATS™ technology runs lake water across a flow-way where algae are grown. As the algae grow, they take up the nutrients from the water. These nutrients are removed once a week by harvesting the algae and removing it from the lake watershed. 

Get Involved


There are many for you to help protect the health of Panther 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. The Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation is active in this watershed.