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.
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 given a score of 81 in 2019. This compares to a "B" letter grade. This is up from a 79 in 2015. 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 has a Nutrient Sensitive Waters Management Strategy. Because of this, the City carefully tracks nutrients in Panther Creek.
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.
Water Pollution Investigations
Stormwater Services staff investigates water pollution reported by other City employees and Durham residents. In the 2019 reporting year, staff found one public sanitary sewer spill in the Panther Creek watershed.
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. Residents can also call the Stormwater Hotline (919-560-SWIM) to report water pollution.
Algal Turf ScrubberThe City started a study testing an innovative technology called the Algal Turf Scrubber®, 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 by harvesting the algae and removing it from the lake watershed.
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 first 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.