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Why become Creek Smart®?

Becoming Creek Smart® is one way you can help to protect the water in your local stream or river. An important part of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association’s mission is to restore the Ellerbe to a healthy, living creek. Yet the greatest threat to the Ellerbe is stormwater runoff.

Every time it rains, stormwater runs off our city streets, buildings, homes and driveways through storm drains and pipes, and into Ellerbe Creek. Like other cities, our 19th and 20th century stormwater system was designed to get the water off properties and into the creek as quickly as possible, with no consideration for water quality protection. We treat water, our most valuable natural resource, as waste! The result is that even small amounts of rain create unnaturally high stream flows that erode creek banks and pollute the water with toxic chemicals, excessive nutrients, and trash.

The good news is that we can help restore a more natural, cleaner Ellerbe Creek by being Creek Smart®.

The Natural Water Cycle
The Urban Water Cycle
A More Sustainable Water Cycle

Water Cycles
Images from: Auckland City Council, 2010

What is Creek Smart®?

The stormwater problem isn’t natural! In a native Piedmont landscape, two-thirds of the rainfall is evaporated or transpired by plants, never getting past the trees! The rest slowly soaks into the ground, where it moves under the soil surface until it emerges in downhill stream channels. Along the way, the soil and plants filter out nitrogen, phosphorus, metals, and other nutrients, and only about one-fourth of the total rainfall flows into Piedmont creeks. In this natural landscape, the water and its nutrients improve the soil and feed the plants, and the creek stays clean and healthy.

You can become Creek Smart® by making your home and yard behave more like a natural landscape, treating the water as a resource rather than as waste. Dedicate a small part of your yard to the creek! Try one of the practices listed.

The City of Durham provides funding for ECWA to install a limited number of rain gardens and cisterns each year. If you live in the watershed and are interested in having your yard assessed for possible installation of a rain garden or cistern, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are interested in becoming Creek Smart®, attend an upcoming workshop or class. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..