The Falls Lake Nutrient Strategy put in place by NC DEQ in 2010 provides more than just drinking water protections for Falls Lake. Communities in the Falls watershed such as Durham benefit from the rule protections, too. Durham’s drinking water supply comes from Lake Michie and Little River Reservoir, both located in the Falls Watershed. This spring, local news reported that algae blooms in these waterbodies are fowling the taste and smell of water for city residents. A cause of these algae blooms is excess nutrients in the water body combined with warming temperatures.
The rules put in place to protect Falls Lake also benefit upstream water quality. They address lowering nutrient pollution from sewage treatment plants, reducing polluted runoff from new development and farms while protecting streamside forests. While implemented for Falls Lake, upstream lakes like Michie and Little River also benefit from these protections.
Due to a legislative mandate, the State Division of Water Resources is currently revising all its nutrient strategy rules. In doing so, it’s important to realize that, while the rules target a lake or estuary, they benefit communities throughout the watershed.