The Division of Water Resources (DWR) is actively working to develop appropriate nutrient criteria for the waters of the state.  The DWR'€s goal is to develop scientifically defensible criteria based primarily on the linkage between nutrient concentrations and protection of designated uses. The criteria for each water body will be coordinated with other water bodies to ensure consistency across the state and protect downstream uses.

Nutrient Criteria Development Plan (2019)

Nutrient Criteria Development Process



The DWR is evaluating nutrients and will develop nutrient criteria throughout North Carolina for the following water body types: 1) reservoirs/lakes, 2) rivers/streams and 3) estuaries.  Our first priority is to develop nutrient criteria for one specific water body within each of the three water body types.  The development of these site-specific criteria will occur for the following water bodies in this order: 1) Reservoir/Lake - High Rock Lake, 2) Estuary - Albemarle Sound and 3) River/Stream - Middle Cape Fear River.

A Scientifically-based, Transparent Process

North Carolina is committed to creating nutrient criteria that are scientifically defensible and cost-effective.  Therefore, a Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) has been assembled, composed of experts in the fields of water quality, water quality engineering, nutrient biogeochemistry, nutrient response variables, nutrient management and point and non-point source nutrient abatement.  This panel of experts will assist the DWR and stakeholders with the development of nutrient criteria and the associated implementation and management strategies.

North Carolina is also committed to a transparent nutrient criteria development process.  Thus, each water body specific criteria development process will have a stakeholder component.  To be notified and receive updates on the stakeholder processes, please register here:  

Additionally, the DWR will update this webpage as needed, to communicate important dates and milestones for each of the nutrient criteria development processes.  Please check this website periodically for updates.