Our Water Ways

The Neuse River Basin

"Decisions we make in Wake Forest can have an effect all the way to the ocean. Wake forest is located in the Neuse River Basin which outlets into the Pamlico Sound."

The Neuse River spans 248 miles from the Falls Lake Reservoir Dam to the Pamlico Sound. The Neuse River and its tributaries, which includes Crabtree, Swift, and Contentnea creeks and the Eno, Little, and Trent rivers, form the Neuse River Basin.

Covering 6,062 square miles, this basin connects Wake Forest to residents of Hillsborough, Durham, Butner, Creedmoor, Wake Forest, Cary, Apex, Garner, Clayton, Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, Smithfield, Benson, Selma, Kenly, Goldsboro, Farmville, Kinston, Ayden, New Bern, and Havelock!

The Neuse River Basin is a great representation of North Carolina’s biodiversity, where you can find the rare panhandle pebblesnail, the Neuse River waterdog (also found in the Tar-Pamlico river basins), the Carolina madtom, the leatherback sea turtle, West Indian manatee, and red-cockaded woodpecker. The basin also feeds one of the nation’s largest coastal estuaries, the Albermarle-Pamlico.

The health of the Neuse River Basin is directly related to the actions of everyone who lives within the basin, even if you don’t live near a river, stream, or lake. Today, nutrient pollution, caused by fertilizer use and animal waste, is one of the greatest threats to the water quality of the lower Neuse River. Rapid population growth and development in the basin, especially in the Triangle region, has also increased stormwater pollution over the last several decades.

Neuse River Basin StoryMap created by the Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs. Discover more about North Carolina river basins on their website.

Water Usage

Sign stating, "We use water to drink, cook, and clean. We also put water to  work to grow and produce everyday household items."

In 2015, the US Geological Survey estimated that Americans used about 322 billion gallons of water per day. Most of this water is used for irrigation and to generate power. Consider how much water it takes to grow or produce items you might use daily.

1 apple
28 gallons of water

1 cotton t-shirt
713 gallons of water

1 ream of paper
1,321 gallons of water

1 pound of beef
1,799 gallons of water

1 pair of jeans
2,000 gallons of water

1 pound of chocolate
3,170 gallons of water

Stormwater Pollution

Sign stating, "Stormwater pollution negatively impacts wildlife, drinkin water, and drainage systems. We can help by preventing household waste and other pollutants from entering storm drains." The sign also includes examples like "litter," "pet waste," "pesticides/herbicides," "yard waste", and "auto waste."

Stormwater includes rain, snow, and other precipitation that flows off driveways, parking lots, and roofs. Stormwater runoff can pick-up and carry soil, pet waste, pesticides, fertilizers, and other pollutants into our local drainage system and nearby creeks, streams, and rivers.

You can help manage stormwater pollution by preventing pollutants like pet waste, pesticides, fertilizers, automobile fluids, yard waste, and other litter from entering storm drains. Sweep sidewalks and driveways instead of spraying, avoid mowing on the edge of a waterway, and maintain vegetation around streams and lakes to help reduce and filter stormwater runoff.

Among all the stormwater pollutants, sediment—bits of loose soil—is the most common pollutant in North Carolina. Dirt in the road, mud escaping from construction sites, eroded slopes and streambanks, or muddy water in streams and ponds are all causes of sediment pollution. Sediment clogs storm drains and contaminates drinking water. Once settled in our local waterways, sediment also limits animals’ ability to see food, prevents vegetation from growing, and destroys natural habitats.

You can report stormwater pollution and other issues through the Town of Wake Forest’s See.Click.Fix app. Here’s what to report:

Erosion/Turbidity – While erosion is a natural process for streams and rivers, unnatural causes that can accelerate erosion should be reported.  This can include dirt in the road, mud escaping a construction site, severely eroded slopes or streambanks, or muddy waters in streams or ponds.  It is important to report in areas with active construction so the Town can take corrective actions.

Flooding – Never drive through standing water.  Report water accumulation in the public ROW or in public drainage easements.  Is it important for the Town to know where we have repeat flooding events so we can focus our repair efforts in the right places.  The Town can’t fix flooding on private property, but we’re happy to investigate the area to make sure all stormwater control measures are functioning properly. 

Illicit Discharge – Report if you see anything but clean stormwater in our stormwater infrastructure or streams.  Odors or visual changes in stormwater should be reported so the Town can investigate.  Running water during dry weather events in otherwise dry conveyances should also be reported.

Litter – Litter has the potential to enter our stormwater system and end up in our waterways.  Reporting litter helps keep the waterways in Wake Forest clean.

Storm Drain Clogged – Report if inlets are covered in debris, or if sediment accumulation in a storm structure has prevented the flow of water.  The Town will send its crews to clean the debris as soon as possible.    

Stormwater – General inquiry about stormwater infrastructure, functionality, policy, and responsibility.

Stream/wetland Water Bodies – These areas are naturally prone to flooding during large rain events, but the Town has protections in place to keep our streams and wetlands healthy.  Report any illegal activity in waterbody buffers such as spraying weed killer, or clearing protected vegetation. 

Learn more about stormwater management and how you can keep our neighborhood waterways healthy by participating in the Adopt-a-Stream program on the Town of Wake Forest’s website.


Sign "Show the world how water shapes your life! Share your stories or photos of water on social media. #MyWaterStory

Don't forget to ta the museum! @WakeForestMuseum

Water is one of the most valuable resources on the planet. Your water stories will show the world how water affects our lives, community, and culture.

Share your stories or photos of water or answer one of the following prompts on social media using #MyWaterStory and don’t forget to tag the museum @WakeForestMuseum (or @WakeForestMus on Twitter)!

What is the most beautiful body of water you have ever seen?

What would you tell a child about water?

What river or lake inspires you?

How can we protect water from pollution in our community?

How would your daily life change if you had limited access to water?

What is a memorable experience you’ve had with water?

How do you put water to work?