Natural Setting

The Neuse and Tar-Pamlico watersheds comprise 12,000 square miles and cover nearly one-fourth of the land area in North Carolina. They are among the most heavily used water resources in the state.


Tar-Pamlico River

The Tar River begins as a freshwater stream in the Piedmont near Roxboro, rising east to meet the Pamlico River near Washington, N.C. to drain into the Pamlico Sound before meeting the Atlantic Ocean. Major tributaries in the upper basin include Swift, Fishing and Tranters creeks and Cokey Swamp, as well as Pungo River in the lower basin. It also includes Lake Mattamuskeet, at more than 18 miles long and 6 miles wide, it is the largest natural lake in the state and home to Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge.

Neuse River

The longest river in North Carolina, the Neuse River Basin stretches 248 miles from the Falls Lake Reservoir Dam in the Piedmont to its mouth at the Pamlico Sound and the state’s original capital at New Bern. At its mouth, six miles across, it’s the widest river in America and our nation’s second largest estuary. Major tributaries include Crabtree, Swift and Contentnea creeks and the Eno, Little and Trent rivers. The Neuse River Basin is a critically important body of water for nearly one-sixth of the state’s population.