At a Glance

A community-driven initiative led to the installation of 42 innovative stormwater control measures, 62 cisterns and 38 new hardwood trees in a 0.5 square-mile area of residential neighborhood. This grass-roots public participation and support will help purify water flowing to Falls Lake.

Project Description

Falls Lake was built in 1981 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide flood control, drinking water supply, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation to citizens in the region. Over the next 27 years development and stormwater runoff in the watershed began to impact water quality in the lake, and by 2008, it was listed as impaired. A large area within the northern city limits of Durham, NC is in the Falls Lake watershed and drains to Falls Lake. The Falls Lake Nutrient Management Strategy was implemented in 2011, and requires sizable reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in surface water flowing to the Lake. In 2012 the City of Durham Stormwater Services Department implemented the Raincatchers project, in a strategically located neighborhood in the watershed.

The project involved planting trees, disconnecting gutter downspouts, installing cisterns, and constructing 42 bioretention stormwater control measures (SCM) in residential lots in an effort to reduce nutrient concentrations in storm water runoff. Biohabitats designed three sizes of bioretention SCMs, assisted in contract bid award, and performed construction oversight on all of the SCMs installed. Biohabitats also produced the planting schedule for trees and supervised tree installation. The City of Durham will monitor water quality into the future to quantify results and water quality benefits derived from the Raincatcher project.



Southeast Atlantic

Physiographic Province



Upper Neuse

Expertise Areas

Community, Conservation, Infrastructure, Urban Ecology, Water


City of Durham


Durham, North Carolina, United States