Stirrup Iron Creek

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.
Stream Water Quality
Stormwater Services staff tracks water quality at one site in Stirrup Iron 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. Stirrup Iron Creek was last given a grade of 69 in 2010. This compares to an "F" letter grade in high school. This low grade was given because of:
  • Cloudy water from dirt washed into the creek
  • High levels of copper that can be toxic for stream life
  • Low oxygen levels in the water (which is bad for fish and other creek life)
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.

The state does not believe these water quality concerns are 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.
Stormwater Projects in Stirrup Iron Creek
Water Quality Investigations
Stormwater Services staff investigates water pollution reported by other city employees and Durham residents. In the 2011 reporting year, staff found pollution sources in four investigations. Pollution included soapy/dirty water from commercial car washes and chlorinated pool water. 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. Citizens can also call the Stormwater Hotline (919-560-SWIM) to report water pollution.

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 one of the many groups dedicated to protecting the health of our rivers and streams. The Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation is active in this watershed.