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:


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