Neuse Nutrient Strategy

Neuse Strategy Overview

April 1, 2020 - Redopted Neuse & Tar-Pamlico Nutrient Strategy Rules are in effect. The Hearing Officers' report and Fiscal Note represent the culmination of five years (2015-2020) of work by a diverse group of stakeholders, the EMC, and DEQ staff. This report provides the history, process, costs & benefits, and outcomes of the rules readoption process.

Since the 1980s, nutrient-related pollution has created water quality problems in the Neuse estuary. Excess amounts of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus have caused problems including low oxygen levels, extensive fish kills and harmful algal blooms. In response to these issues, North Carolina developed the Neuse nutrient strategy, a set of rules designed to equitably regulate sources of nutrient pollution in the basin including wastewater, stormwater, and agricultural nutrient sources. The rules also protect riparian buffers and mandate training for professionals that apply fertilizer. The rules went into effect in 1997 and seek to reduce nitrogen levels in the estuary by 30% from a 1991-1995 baseline. The ultimate goal of the strategy is the removal of the Neuse estuary from North Carolina’s impaired waters list. 

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Agricultural operations in the basin are collectively subject to a 30% reduction goal for nitrogen loading.  

Riparian buffers are subject to protection under the Neuse strategy, with exceptions for uses that existed before the strategy was developed.  Some new uses are allowable so long as impacts are appropriately mitigated elsewhere.

The Neuse Stormwater Rule limits nutrient runoff from new development projects and is implemented by local governments that are named in the Rule.  Some of these local governments were included in the earlier version of the Rule, and will continue to implement the older version of the Rule (15A NCAC 02B .0235) until they start implementing the new Rule.

The following jurisdictions are currently subject to the older Neuse Rule (.0711) and are estimated to start implementing the new Stormwater Rule in September 2022:

(i) Cary; (ii) Durham; (iii) Garner; (iv) Goldsboro; (v) Havelock; (vi) Kinston; (vii) New Bern; (viii) Raleigh; (ix) Smithfield; (x) Wilson; (xi) Durham County; (xii) Johnston County; (xiii) Orange County; (xiv) Wake County; and (xv) Wayne County.

The following jurisdictions have been added to the revised Stormwater Rule and are estimated to start implementing the new Stormwater Rule in March 2023:

(i) Apex; (ii) Clayton; (iii) Fuquay Varina; (iv) Greenville; (v) Holly Springs; (vi) Knightdale; (vii) Morrisville; (viii) Rolesville; (viii) Wake Forest; (ix) Wendell; (x) Winterville; (xi) Craven County; (xii) Nash County; (xiii) Pitt County; and (xiv) Wilson County.

Developments permitted under the older Rules will continue to have the requirements of  these permits apply until such time as expansion of development that meets New Rule thresholds is met.  New Rules then apply to the expansion of development.

Resources to assist in compliance with the Neuse Stormwater rule include:

Wastewater dischargers in the Neuse basin are subject to nutrient limits as described in the Neuse Management Strategy: Wastewater Discharge Requirements rule 15A NCAC 02B .0713

DWR and its partners actively monitor water quality in the Neuse basin and routinely assess its performance against existing water quality standards.

Also, DWR's Modeling and Assessment Branch periodically updates a trend analysis of nutrient loading at stations in the Neuse Basin and above the estuary. 

Neuse Nutrient Strategy Coordinator
Trish D'Arconte
(919) 707-3678

Nonpoint Source Planning Branch Chief
Rich Gannon
(919) 707-3673