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New Jordan Lake Rules Information

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History of Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake was originally named New Hope Lake and construction was authorized in 1963 following a disastrous hurricane that caused extensive flood damage within the Cape Fear River Valley.  Construction began in 1967 by damming up the Haw River near its confluence with the Deep River along the Chatham County and Lee County boundaries.  The lake was constructed to provide flood control, drinking water, fish and wildlife conservation and recreation to the surrounding areas.  New Hope Lake was renamed B. Everett Jordan Dam and Lake in 1973 in honor of Benjamin Everett Jordan who represented North Carolina in the US Senate from 1958 to 1973. 

Today Jordan Lake consists of 46,768 acres of land, mostly in Chatham County, and supplies drinking water to Chatham County, Orange County, Wake County, City of Durham, and the towns of Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, and Morrisville.  The Jordan Lake watershed encompasses portions of Alamance, Chatham, Durham, Guilford, Orange and Wake Counties.jordan lake rules

History of the Jordan Rules

In August 2009, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Jordan Lake Nutrient Management Strategy, also known as the Jordan Rules.  The Jordan Rules mandate the reduction of pollution in the entire watershed from activities that include activities related to existing and new development within the watershed.  These activities can include wastewater discharges, stormwater runoff, agricultural and fertilizer applications.  Riparian buffers implemented through the rules apply to all properties within the watershed, previously developed or not yet developed.  These buffer implemented maintenance and development requirements for property owners that are regulated by the local jurisdictions and at the state level.  

Applicable Buffers

Through the Jordan Lake Buffer Rules, an automatic 50-ft buffer is placed on both sides of mapped “blueline” streams in the watershed.  These “blueline” streams are approximately shown on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Topographic Maps and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Survey Maps which can be accessed under the base map layers on Chatham County GIS Website.


 soil map                     topo map

          Sample NRCS Soil Survey Map                                        Sample USGS Topographic Map


Property owners that dispute the presence of the mapped stream may request a Surface Water Identification by staff within the Watershed Protection Division utilizing the Riparian Buffer Review Application.  Staff will then use methodologies and criteria developed by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality to determine if the mapped stream is subject to riparian buffers.  The Jordan Lake Buffer Rules only apply to intermittent and perennial streams and perennial waterbodies (ponds) within natural drainage ways or in-line with a stream.  During the on-site review staff can only identify and confirm the presence of the mapped stream as approximately shown.  Any unmapped streams located on the property are not subject to the Jordan Buffer Rules but may be subject to riparian buffers through others sections of the Chatham County Watershed Protection Ordinance.

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