The Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative (Initiative) was recently recognized for its expansive efforts to protect drinking water and the watersheds that support citizens in central North Carolina. The North Carolina Source Water Collaborative awarded the Initiative its 2017 Award of Excellence for Surface Water Planning and Surface Water Implementation. The award was presented at the Water Resources Research Institute conference in Raleigh.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized by the North Carolina Source Water Collaborative for the critical work of conservation partners and local governments across the region,” said Caitlin Burke, CTNC Associate Director. “Land protection is one of the most effective ways to protect drinking water sources and limit runoff pollution while maintaining wildlife habitat, preserving open space, and providing recreational opportunities for local communities.”

As of December 2016, partners had completed 98 projects protecting 8,048 acres and land along 89 miles of streams in North Carolina’s Upper Neuse River Basin. In fall 2016 alone, partners protected 40 acres in Wake County, 33 acres in Durham County, and 114 acres in Orange County, and ensuring protective buffers along 6,851 feet of streams.

Additionally, 10 projects currently are in process. One those are completed, the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative will celebrate another milestone – conserving 10,000 acres and more than 100 miles of streams so local residents have access to safe, clean drinking water.

The Initiative is made up of nonprofit organizations and local governments that protect the lands most critical for ensuring the long-term health of drinking water supplies in the Upper Neuse Basin, which serve more than 600,000 people in Wake, Durham, Orange, Granville, Franklin, and Person counties.

NC land trusts involved in the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative include the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (coordinator), Ellerbe Creek Watershed AssociationEno River AssociationTar River Land ConservancyTriangle Greenways CouncilTriangle Land Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund.