South Buffalo Creek Wetland

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Purpose: The waters of the Cape Fear River basin originate in Guilford County. All water users downstream of Guilford County are directly affected by stormwater that drains from the Greensboro metropolitan area. To improve the quality of waters in the South Buffalo Creek, a headwater stream in the Cape Fear Basin, the City will put into place a three-tiered approach to stormwater best management practices (BMP) at: (1) the source of stormwater runoff, (2) an appropriate intermediate location on the urban stream, and (3) a location near the outskirts of the urban area as the stream leaves the city. This project is complete.

This project will provide the opportunity to evaluate and implement stormwater management practices and techniques unique to North Carolina’s Piedmont region. These practices and techniques have been proven successful in other areas of the United States.

The South Buffalo Creek has been rated as impaired by North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR). All project elements proposed would be designed to complement the objectives of the Cape Fear River Basinwide Water Quality Management Plan, published by NC DENR. Drinking water supply facilities, including Jordan Lake, are affected by the quality of water in the South Buffalo Creek, a major headwater stream in the Cape Fear Watershed.

Geographical Location of Project

Location: The project is located in the headwaters of Cape Fear River Basin, in the south-central part of the city. It is on the South Buffalo Creek and its flood plain, bounded by Interstate 40 to the north, Earl Drive and Creek Ridge Road to the south, Freeman Mill Road and Rehobeth Church Road to the west. The site is one of the few undeveloped open spaces available along the highly urbanized South Buffalo Creek suitable for the development of a regional BMP that can enhance the quality of water in the stream draining the upper half the South Buffalo Creek watershed within Greensboro.


Description: The project is an in-stream pollution control facility in the Cape Fear River Watershed, designed to control the pollution in the South Buffalo Creek at a point that drains about 13 square miles in the south Greensboro area. The location of the project is about midway between the origin of the South Buffalo Creek and the point where the stream crosses the corporate boundary. At this location, the creek receives drainage from 13 square miles of urban area.

Project Details

The project consists of acquiring approximately 36 acres of land, including the stream channel and the adjacent floodplain of the South Buffalo Creek, and developing an in-stream wetland pollution control facility and environmental education facilities. The pollution control facility would be created by developing a riparian wetland in the bottomlands of the stream and vegetated riparian buffers along the banks of the creek.

The wetland will be created by raising the stream water level (and the local ground water table), through the construction of a water level control gate structure in the creek at a location upstream of I-40 within the project site. The project will create an estimated 20 acres of riparian wetlands. The wetlands, in addition to contributing to the scarce wetland resources in the Piedmont region of the state, will improve the quality of the urban water runoff draining from the southwest Greensboro metropolitan area and, through it, the waters of the Cape Fear watershed. The gate structure is expected to allow the water to be partially oxygen at the Proposed Wetland Location through entrainment of air as the water falls over the gate.


Wetland vegetation will be selected and planted in the proposed wetland areas, as necessary, to supplement the reoxygenation and natural growth of such vegetation. The development of the wetland will be monitored for at least five years, and the City will take corrective actions as needed to make sure that the wetland is established.

The project includes preservation and creation (as necessary) of riparian buffers along both banks of the stream in the project area, incorporating greenways and nature trails for environmental education and recreation. The buffers will include the existing wooded banks, along with the underbrush and grasses, that will significantly filter pollutants from the non-point source sheet flow running off the urban land (including major roads) adjacent to the stream, as well as urban runoff carried by the stream during flood conditions.

Trails will be developed in the greenways along the banks and highlight points of environmental educational interest in the wetland area and buffer zones. Directional and educational signs are proposed to be installed with easy to read and interesting signs for the benefit of adults as well as children. The nature park created by the wetland, greenways, trails, and the signage in the project area, which is in midst of the City’s south side, will be designed to become an invaluable asset to citizens for both recreation and environmental education.

Additional information

Why does the City need this project?

  • To improve South Buffalo Creek, which is listed by the state and EPA as an "impaired stream"
  • To improve water quality by treating the "first flush" of rainfall runoff
  • To reduce sediment, metals, and other pollutants found in urban stormwater runoff
  • To provide public recreation and environmental education facilities through nature trails and educational signs in the park area

How will the project affect me?

  • Enhanced neighborhood value with nature park, educational, and recreational benefits
  • No increase in flood hazards due to the project
  • Enhanced habitat for fish and wildlife
  • No increase in pests/mosquitoes anticipated
  • Negligible increase in vehicular traffic
  • Visitor access to the nature park via Rehobeth Church Road Vision similar to Greensboro Bog Garden
  • Restoration of natural stream and floodplain
  • Creation of ground water wetland on the floodplain
  • Grant funding from the state for 67 percent of project costs