Riparian Buffer Protection Program

***NEW!*** See mapping tool below for access to compiled NRCS scanned soil surveys & USGS topo layers for NC

To help protect water quality in North Carolina, DWR has in place riparian buffer rules protecting vegetated areas adjacent to intermittent and perennial streams, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, estuaries, and modified natural streams. The Neuse, Tar-Pamlico, and Catawba Rules were established to protect estuaries and downstream lakes through their buffer nutrient removal function; Randleman Lake and Jordan Lake Rules were enacted to protect water supply sources; and Goose Creek Rules were created to sustain and recover the federally endangered Carolina Heelsplitter freshwater mussel. Information and links provided on this page address applicability of these rules, protection requirements, authorization/mitigation of impacts, and stormwater considerations.  

Riparian Buffer Rules

Riparian Buffer Rules (including table of uses)
Riparian Buffer FAQs
Helpful Documents
Riparian Buffer Authorizations and Variances

New rules effective June 15, 2020:
Neuse, Tar-Pamlico, Catawba, Randleman, & Goose Creek
(*Jordan Rules remain unchanged) 

The tables linked below provide a reference for prior and current citations. Additional tools are also provided to help outline major changes as well as unchanged elements in the rules.

Fact sheet 
Overview (more detailed summary of updates)
Detailed Presentation
Cross-reference table (sorted by new as well as old citations)

Buffer Mapping Resources

***NEW!*** USGS Topo/ NRCS Published Soil Survey Mapping Tool 
Riparian Buffer Protection Programs Map (PDF)
NC Riparian Buffer Area Map (Online interactive map)
Randleman Lake Watershed Map  (
Most recent published Soil Survey Table
NRCS Soil Surveys for North Carolina (Info & downloads via NRCS website)
USGS National Map Viewer (USGS online interactive topographic maps)
Clarification of USGS National Map and clarification of "necessary infrastructure" (Public Notice issued 11/23/21)

Model Ordinances

Jordan Lake

Buffer Clarification Memos

Many of the clarification memos listed in the categories below are now incorporated into recent buffer rule revisions. Where a topic discussed in a memo has been incorporated into rule, the rule supersedes the buffer clarification memo.

Tab/Accordion Items