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Ellerbe Creek
Watershed Association
YouTube Icon We are excited to be rolling out a series of Ellerbe & Me videos as part of our end of year campaign. Look for a new video each week, and consider supporting ECWA so we can continue to create and document more Ellerbe & Me stories across the watershed!
Working TogetherMeet the newest member of the team that keeps ECWA working - Director of Conservation, Cherri Smith.
Explorer's ClubSign up for nature hikes, Family Explorers Club, preserve workdays, and Green Infrastructure workshops. They're all happening at ECWA nature preserves!
Join ECWAJoin ECWA. Your family can join ECWA for as little as 11 cents per day. Help us protect the creek, restore the creek and connect the community to the creek.
 
The Rocks Nature Preserve
Youth Conservation Corps

at Glennstone Nature Preserve

Image from ECWA wildlife camera
at Glennstone Nature Preserve

ECWA 2014 Creek Tour

Glennstone Nature Preserve

Artwork by Melanie Middleton's kindergarten class from EK Powe Elementary School about their science class field trips to the 17 Acre Wood

Bald Eagle at Beaver Marsh Preserve
(photo by j meehan)

Introducing the 2017 Beaver Queen

FUR-EDDIE MERCURY

photo by Lyn Steuart

Eight-year-old Esther Hernandez-Alvarez collects soil samples near Goose Creek. Read More

Eight-year-old Esther Hernandez-Alvarez collects soil samples near Goose Creek. Read More

Eight-year-old Esther Hernandez-Alvarez collects soil samples near Goose Creek. Read More

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Upcoming Events

 

Behind an abandoned movie theater, just off Interstate 85 and above an urban wetland, 10 young people spent last week blazing half a mile of trails.

Maybe not quite blazing – more like chopping, pulling, digging, filling, grading and bridging half a mile through heat, bugs, brush and matted tangles of English ivy,...

The EPA's proposed revocation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) definition and its proposed replacement ... is a threat to our non-regulatory approach to restoring Ellerbe Creek. For this reason, the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association has major concerns about both of these proposed agency actions ...

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, City of Durham Stormwater Services, American Rivers, Downtown Durham, Inc., and the Triangle J Council of Governments are conducting a study in the Ellerbe Creek Watershed to identify opportunities for small stormwater retrofits (e.g. green roofs, rain gardens) with the potential to improve water quality in the creek.

It’s bawdy, it’s irreverent, but it also bills itself as family-friendly, and all the money raised goes for an environmental cause — to improve the water quality of Ellerbe Creek.

It is the annual Beaver Queen Pageant, and the 13th annual contest for the queen of the wetlands will be held Saturday, June 3, in Duke Park. Just about everything that is said at the pageant or published on the Beaver Queen website is a pun...

“Fur-Eddie Mercury” on Saturday was crowned the 2017 Beaver Queen after a competitive Beaver Queen Pageant that included singing, comedy and lots of double entendres.

The annual Beaver Queen Pageant, held the first Saturday in June at Duke Park, is a fundraiser for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association. Funds are raised in large part by guests and contestants “bribing” judges — legally — to get their votes as well as participants paying $5 per vote.

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association visits Durham classrooms and holds outdoor lessons as part of its Explorers Club, which connects students in kindergarten through fifth grade to environmental education opportunities and fosters a love of the outdoors. The nonprofit’s big-picture mission is advocating for a healthy Ellerbe Creek, which runs through Durham and empties into Falls Lake, and protecting more than 340 acres of land along the creek and its tributary streams.

While out fishing on a lake with her father, 7-year-old Laura Smith lost one of her baby teeth. As the tooth was falling out, she hooked a big fish.

“That’s one of our family folk tales,” said Smith, now a parent as well as a stormwater expert with the city of Durham. “When families spend time in nature together, they are building the foundation for a lifelong environmental ethic, not to mention forming great memories.”

From Allibay and Watery Branch to Pinhook and Allergy Creek, the history of Ellerbe and South Ellerbe creeks is long and colorful. During his 1701 trek through the wilderness of the Carolinas, John Lawson headed east from Occaneechi Town (near what is now Hillsborough). Lawson wrote of hiking 14 difficult miles, "a sad stoney way," to the next village, called Adshusheer.

The Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association visits Durham classrooms and holds outdoor lessons as part of its Explorers Club, which connects students in kindergarten through fifth grade to environmental education opportunities and fosters a love of the outdoors. The nonprofit’s big-picture mission is advocating for a healthy Ellerbe Creek, which runs through Durham and empties into Falls Lake, and protecting more than 340 acres of land along the creek and its tributary streams.

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Cistern Maint Guide

Cistern Maintenance Guide

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Add a Green Roof

Problem

Many roofs contribute massive amounts of stormwater runoff to the creek because the downspouts are sent directly to the street. In a 1- inch rainfall, a 3,000 square-foot roof can shed 1,800 gallons of stormwater. Across a city, thousands of rooftops create millions of gallons of stormwater runoff that fill the creeks in an unnatural and harmful way. This runoff also carries with it any pollutants from the roof itself, such as animal droppings or grit from roof shingles.

Stormwater flowing into storm drain

Stormwater flowing into storm drain
Image source: Wikipedia, Robert Lawton

Solution

Catch and treat the runoff where it falls by adding a green roof to your house or garage. Green roofs are the gold standard for urban stormwater management, consisting of a layer of vegetation and soil installed on top of an impermeable layer on an existing roof. In addition to reducing stormwater runoff and pollutants, green roofs may also: reduce roofing maintenance, improve energy efficiency, reduce the urban heat island effect, provide habitat for wildlife, and improve air quality. While green roofs have been used for centuries in Europe, modern versions are engineered to be used on existing rooftops. However, green roofs usually require professional engineering to ensure that the integrity of the roof is not compromised by the weight of the material and retained water.

Green Roof in Durham, NC

Green Roof in Durham, NC
Image source: Xeroflor America

 

Build a Wetland Garden

Problem

In some yards, stormwater runoff can create an area of standing water that lasts for longer than three days. This perennial moisture is often caused by a heavy layer of clay soil and/or a high water table.

Standing water in yard

Standing water in yard
Image source: North Carolina Cooperative Extension

Solution

Standing water can be a nuisance, but not necessarily. If the wet area is in a part of your yard that is away and downhill from your house or other structures, go with the flow! Use native wetland plants to filter pollutants from stormwater runoff. Native wetland plants can handle having their roots in standing water for long periods of time. The plant roots will also help to improve soil quality, and therefore infiltration, by helping to break through the heavy clay layer and adding organic matter to the soil which in turn encourages more soil organisms which help to build soil. Many wetland plants are very pretty, and will create a beautiful garden that will attract dragonflies and frogs.

Wetland garden

Wetland garden
Image source: UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

 

Protect Your Backyard Creek

Problem

Before the Ellerbe Creek watershed was developed in the 1800’s, there were 3 miles of small, headwater stream s for every one mile of larger streams. Lacking modern stream protections, the early developers often built houses too close to these streams. The stormwater management approach of the time was to get the water off of the property as quickly and efficiently as possible, the opposite of how a natural system functions. Unfortunately, this additional stormwater overwhelmed streams with runoff, causing massive stream erosion. As a result, Ellerbe Creek’s small tributary streams are often deeply eroded and lacking protective natural streamside buffers.

Protecting Your Backyard Stream Resources:

Solution

To help protect the streams from further impact, build at least a 10-foot natural stream buffer, by planting native trees or shrubs, removing invasive plants and removing all the pipes leading to the creek. The buffers and natural infiltration allows stormwater to enter into the stream slowly, helping to protect the creek from damage and drought. On occasion, ECWA and NC Cooperative Extension conduct backyard stream repair workshops to teach how this can be done.

Natural Stream Buffer

Natural Stream Buffer
Image source: Chesapeake Bay Program