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McDowell Creek Watershed
Storm Water Services is investing in more water quality improvement projects in the McDowell Watershed than in any other basin in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

McDowell Creek flows into Mountain Island Lake, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's primary drinking water source.

Rapid growth in Huntersville and Cornelius has increased water pollution and stream bank erosion. Sediment from construction sites and bank erosion has destroyed aquatic habitat in McDowell Creek and many of its tributaries. That prompted the NC Division of Water Quality to label McDowell Creek as "impaired due to biological integrity."

Numerous Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services projects are improving the water quality, restoring the eroded stream channels and improving habitat in McDowell Creek and its tributaries. What is stream restoration?​

The McDowell Creek Watershed covers about 30 square miles of northwestern Mecklenburg County. McDowell Creek and its tributaries are nearly 75 miles long.

McDowell Creek is clogged with sediment
McDowell Creek is clogged with sediment 

Storm Water Services' projects in the McDowell Watershed

Upper McDowell Creek (Pine Ridge Drive to Danesway Lane, Cornelius) completed 2010 

 • McDowell Creek (Westmoreland Road to Sam Furr Road, Cornelius and Huntersville) delayed

 • McDowell Creek (Birkdale to Gilead Road, Huntersville) *new video

 • Best Management Practices (BMPs) retrofit -
five locations

 • Upper Torrence Creek - Phases One and Two
Torrence Main Stem and Trib #2 (Torrence Creek and Torrence Tributary #2, Huntersville) completed 2011

 • Torrence Creek BMPs (North Meck Recycling Center property, Huntersville) completed 2009

 • North Mecklenburg Park (Headwaters of Torrence Tributary #1, Huntersville) completed 2013

 • Torrence Tributary #1 (I-77 to Gilead Road, Huntersville) completed 2012

Sources of funding for projects to improve water quality in the McDowell Watershed:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services
Town of Cornelius
Town of Huntersville
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department
North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund
North Carolina DENR 319 Program
North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program
North Carolina Department of Transportation
North Carolina Natural Resources Conservation Service
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Federal stimulus)

McDowell Creek Watershed Management Plan

The Storm Water Services projects are guided by the McDowell Creek Watershed Management Plan which was completed in 2006.  The Plan, the first of its kind in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, is a comprehensive, strategic roadmap for the management and restoration of surface waters within the entire watershed.

Watershed Management Plan Goals:
Improve water quality in McDowell Creek and its tributaries to ensure

  • fully functioning and supporting stream ecosystem for aquatic life
  • safe and secure water supply downstream in McDowell Creek Cove and Mountain Island Lake.

Watershed Management Plan Objectives:

  • Prioritize areas for restoration, retrofit and preservation efforts
  • Outline the overall water quality goals for the watershed
  • Outline the process forward for implementing water quality efforts
  • Outline the process for measuring success

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services works closely with the Towns of Huntersville and Cornelius to improve water quality in this water supply watershed.  In 2003, rapidly growing Huntersville adopted a more stringent Storm Water Ordinance with additional storm water management requirements and emphasis on low impact development. 

A paved greenway trail runs along Upper McDowell Creek from Westmoreland Road to Sam Furr Road. Another greenway trail follows a section of Torrence Creek near Gilead Road. Water quality educational opportunities are to be provided along the greenway and at Best Management Practices such as wetlands and rain gardens being created by Storm Water Services throughout the McDowell Watershed.

Project Managers:

Crystal Taylor, P.E.

David Kroening, P.G.

David Woodie, P.E.

Gwen Cook
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation (greenways)