photo of Ellerbe Creek
Ellerbe Creek.

Ellerbe Creek is a predominately urban watershed located in Durham, NC and is a tributary to Falls Lake, a drinking water reservoir for 600,000 Wake County residents.

Ellerbe Creek has been identified by the State as an "impaired stream" because it does not sufficiently support aquatic life. Possible causes include:

NCDWQ has begun conducting investigations to determine causes of impairment. One major source of stress to the watershed is impervious surfaces (such as rooftops, driveways, and roads), which prevent water from infiltrating into the ground. When it rains, more water flows over land, picking up pollutants and sediment, eroding stream banks, backing up into sewer systems, and generally making a mess of the stream. Even low levels of impervious land cover (10 to 15%) can degrade streams. About 22% of the Ellerbe Creek watershed is impervious, although a large portion of the watershed that drains to South Ellerbe Creek is more than 40% impervious.

Look at our brochure: "KEEPING OUR WATERS CLEAN" - A Guide to Stream and Wetland Restoration

Land Area: 37 square miles
Major Tributaries: South Ellerbe Creek, Goose Creek, and Panther Creek
Population: 47,540 in 2000
Land Protected: 27%
Impervious Surfaces: 22% in 2000; 27.5% by 2025
Jurisdictions: Durham City and County, State and Federal governments (Falls Lake State Recreational Area)
Permitted Wastewater Discharge (MGD, million gallons per day) : North Durham Water Reclamation Facility (20 MGD); Days Inn Wastewater Treatment Plant (0.018 MGD); Lake Ridge Aero Park (0.016 MGD)