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Riparian Buffers

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Purpose of Riparian Buffers

Riparian buffers are a significant contributor to surface water quality. 

They help filter the stormwater runoff that flows from roads, roofs, lawns and other developed areas before it reaches the streams.

They remove many pollutants such as oil from roads, sediment, and nutrients from over-fertilized lawns.

The vegetation within riparian buffers slows floodwaters and runoff, allowing sediment and debris to settle out, building stream banks and reducing trash and other debris that reaches streams.

By slowing down floodwaters and runoff, the riparian vegetation also allows water to soak into the ground and recharge groundwater which is used throughout out the county for private drinking water supplies

 watershed map

Buffer widths vary depending on the properties location within Chatham County and when the lot was created.  Please refer to the above Watershed Map or utilize the Tax and Land Records Application of Chatham County GIS to determine what watershed your property is in.

Riparian Buffer Requirements

What can I do within the buffers?

Forms and Applications

Riparian Buffer Review Application Packet (all review excluding Major Subdivisions)

Riparian Buffer Review Application Packet (Major Subdivisions only)

Agent Authorization Form

Authorization to Enter Property Form


Contact Information

Please contact Drew Blake, Watershed Specialist, at 919-545-8394 or if you have any questions regarding Riparian Buffers or Riparian Buffer Determinations.

NC DEQ 401 & Buffer Permitting Program

Please contact Karen Higgins, Supervisor, at 919-807-6360 or if you have any questions regarding Section 401 and Buffer Impacts that are outside of the Jurisdiction of Chatham County.

US Army Corps of Engineers – Stream Channel and Wetland Impacts

Please contact Andrew Williams at 919-554-4884 Ext. 26 or if you have any questions regarding Section 404 Permitting (Stream and Wetland Impacts).

Environmental Consultants for Streams & Wetlands

Further Resources

Watershed Review Board

Watershed 70/10 Rule

Watershed Protection Ordinance (revised 10/17/2016)

1994 Watershed Protection Ordinance

Jordan Buffer Rules

NC DEQ Riparian Buffer Protection Program