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Falls Lake Nutrient Strategy

Falls Lake Watershed

(If you are looking for the old website layout, please see


The Falls Lake Rules are a nutrient management strategy designed to restore water quality in the lake by reducing the amount of pollution entering upstream. Restoration and protection of the lake is essential because it serves as a water supply for many communities, as well as a popular recreation area. However, nutrient-related pollution has caused water quality problems in Falls Lake. Since 2008, the reservoir has exceeded the state’s chlorophyll-a standard, which measures impacts of nutrient pollution on the lake. The Falls Lake Nutrient Management Strategy was implemented in 2011 to reduce nutrient inputs to the lake from wastewater discharges, stormwater runoff from new and existing development, and agricultural sources. Also known as the Falls Lake Rules, the strategy was developed through extensive water quality modeling and input from stakeholder groups in the watershed.

The Falls Lake rules require all major sources of nutrients in the watershed to reduce their nitrogen loads by 40% and phosphorus loads by 77%. The Falls rules are being implemented in a staged process. Stage I runs through 2020, with the objective of meeting water quality standards in the lower lake, and reducing most nutrient inputs by half across the whole lake. Stage II calls for additional reductions in the upper watershed, with the overall goal of achieving all reductions by 2041.

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The Army Corps of Engineers finished construction of Falls Lake in 1978 to provide flood control, drinking water supply, protection of downstream water quality, fish and wildlife conservation, and recreation. Following questions in 2004 over the condition of Falls Lake, the Division of Water Quality (now Resources) began more intensive sampling for use support assessment. A Falls Lake Technical Advisory Committee was formed in July 2005 to assist with the review and modification of the monitoring strategy and developing levels of confidence for decision making associated with the monitoring and lake modeling activities. The field study was completed in fall 2007. Based on water quality data collected between 2002 and 2006, Falls Lake was listed as impaired for chlorophyll a on the draft NC 2008 303(d) list. The portion of the lake above I-85 was also listed as impaired for turbidity. 

Falls Lake Rules: As Adopted by EMC on Nov. 19, 2010
Request to Adopt Officers' Recommendations on Proposed Falls Nutrient Rules - Nov. 18, 2010
Falls Lake Hearing Officer's Report - November 2010


For the following maps, download files to your computer and unzip using GIS:
Falls Lake Watershed Shapefiles

Rules and Implementation

The Falls Lake Rules were approved by the N.C. Rules Review Commission at their Dec. 16, 2010 meeting. The rules were approved with an effective date of Jan. 15, 2011. The final approved rules are provided below.

Complete Set of the Falls Lake Rules (.0275 through .0282 and amended .0235 and .0315) 

Rules Implementation page (link coming soon)

Falls Lake Rules by Section

15A NCAC 02B .0275 - Purpose and Scope
15A NCAC 02B .0276 - Definitions
15A NCAC 02B .0277 - Stormwater Management for New Development 
15A NCAC 02B .0278 – Stormwater Management for Existing Development
15A NCAC 02B .0279 – Wastewater Discharge Requirements
15A NCAC 02B .0280 – Agriculture
15A NCAC 02B .0281 – Stormwater Requirements for State and Federal Entities
15A NCAC 02B .0282 - Options for Offsetting Nutrient Loads
15A NCAC 02B .0235 – Amended Neuse River Basin Stormwater Requirements
15A NCAC 02B .0315 – Amended Neuse River Basin 

Monitoring and Assessment

DWR and its partners actively monitor water quality in the Jordan Lake watershed and routinely assess its performance against existing water quality standards.

Falls and Jordan Lakes Monitoring Page

See also: 
DWR Monitoring Coalition Program
DWR Intensive Survey Branch
DWR Modeling and Assessment Branch
DWR Ecosystems Branch
North Carolina 303(d) list

Further Reading

Falls Lake Fiscal Analysis
Falls Lake Power Point Presentation to March 2010 EMC
Falls Lake Stakeholder Project
Falls Lake Stakeholder Wiki
Falls Lake Watershed Model Report
Falls Lake Model Report
Senate Bill 1020
Session Law 2005-190


Falls Lake Rules Information:

John Huisman, 919-807-6436 or
Rich Gannon, 919-807-6440 or

Falls Watershed Buffer Information:

Paul Wojoski, 919-807-6364 or