Neuse Nutrient Strategy


Since the 1980s, nutrient-related pollution has created water quality problems in the Neuse estuary. Excess amounts of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus have caused problems including low oxygen levels, extensive fish kills and harmful algal blooms. In response to these issues, North Carolina developed the Neuse nutrient strategy, a set of rules designed to equitably regulate sources of nutrient pollution in the basin including wastewater, stormwater, and agricultural nutrient sources. The rules also protect riparian buffers and mandate training for professionals that apply fertilizer. The rules went into effect in 1997 and seek to reduce nitrogen levels in the estuary by 30% from a 1991-1995 baseline. The ultimate goal of the strategy is the removal of the Neuse estuary from North Carolina’s impaired waters list. 


Neuse Nutrient Strategy Coordinator
Jim Hawhee
(919) 707-3675

Nonpoint Source Planning Branch Chief
Rich Gannon
(919) 707-3673

Neuse Strategy Resources


Stormwater and Nutrient Offset

Relatively populous areas in the basin are subject to rules that limit nutrient runoff from new development projects. If necessary, some nutrient loads can be offset by restoration projects in other areas after meeting onsite requirements.  The following jurisdictions are subject to the Neuse new development stormwater rules:

Town of Cary | City of Durham | Town of Garner | City of Goldsboro |
City of Havelock | City of Kinston | City of New Bern | City of Raleigh |
Town of Smithfield | City of Wilson | Durham County | Johnston County |
Orange County | Wake County | Wayne County

Resources to assist in compliance with the Neuse strategy include:

Point Sources

Wastewater dischargers in the Neuse basin are subject to nutrient limits as described in rule 15A NCAC 02B .0234.


Agricultural operations in the basin are collectively subject to a 30% reduction goal for nitrogen loading.  


Riparian buffers are subject to protection under the Neuse strategy, with exceptions for uses that existed before the strategy was developed.  Some new uses are allowable so long as impacts are appropriately mitigated elsewhere.

Monitoring and Assessment

DWR and its partners actively monitor water quality in the Neuse basin and routinely assess its performance against existing water quality standards.