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UPDATE: Lick Creek, Durham

Posted on August 10th, 2023

Though black sediment fencing is designed to prevent soils from running off into Lick Creek, it is apparently not working, as shown by the creek's bright orange color.

The public has one last chance to weigh in on development in Durham at a special joint city-county public hearing on Aug. 31.

“It’s a hearing to discuss the new city-county comprehensive plan, as well as the new urban growth boundary, which is really the action point: where is growth going to happen, when and how,” said Sound Rivers’ Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop.

For more than a year, Sam has been working with Durham residents concerned about the rampant development happening in previously rural areas and how that is impacting the environment — specifically the Lick Creek watershed. Clear-cutting of forest to make way for more than a dozen separate housing developments currently under construction has led to erosion and sedimentation of the waterways, evidenced by the creek and its tributaries running “tomato-soup red” when it rains. Lick Creek is a tributary of Falls Lake, a source of drinking water for thousands of Durham residents.

The pace of development and its impacts led the Durham City-County Planning Commission this week to unanimously vote down a proposal for yet another development in the Lick Creek watershed, and recent outings by Sam (by air) and Program Director Clay Barber (by boat) prove that Lick Creek erosion and sedimentation is only getting worse (see photos below).

“In the Aug. 31 hearing, city and county officials will be meeting, and development in this particular part of the watershed that is being most heavily developed will be discussed. That is moment worth promoting,” Sam said.

The joint public hearing will be held Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. The hearing will be held in the Durham City Council Chambers located at 101 City Hall Plaza, Durham NC 27701. An agenda and information on how to join the meeting virtually via Zoom will be posted here prior to the meeting.

Lick Creek, where it enters Falls Lake, a source of drinking water for thousands.
The turbidity of the water at the confluence of Falls Lake and Lick Creek is apparent. Photo taken by Program Director Clay Barber.
Banks built from sediment deposited at the mouth of Lick Creek, as seen at water level in Falls Lake.

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