Jordan Lake One Water

UPDATE: As of July 2022, the Jordan Lake One Water (JLOW) Coalition is a registered North Carolina nonprofit!

Stay tuned for a new website coming soon, where you will be able to learn more and sign up as a member!
In the meantime, check out the Jordan Lake One Water Vision and Recommendations Document (Sept 2021).

Thank you to all the staff, partners and stakeholders who have helped us reach this milestone in the journey to integrated water quality and water resources solutions.


The Jordan Lake Watershed is a massive regional resource that is utilized by 10 counties, 27 municipalities, and nearly 700,000 water customers, which has impacted the health of Jordan Lake. For the past decade and a half, state policy-makers, regulatory agencies, local governments, and a range of other stakeholders have worked to restore water quality within Jordan Lake with little success. As water quality and water supply challenges continue to increase from growing populations, there is an opportunity to reevaluate water resource management within the Jordan Lake Watershed and move towards a more collaborative, interdisciplinary, and innovative approach. Jordan Lake One Water (JLOW) is a partnership to facilitate cooperation and integrated water resource management in the Jordan Lake watershed. The group is comprised of local governments, conservation groups, universities, water utilities, agriculture, and private industry stakeholders interested in sharing the cost of water quality and quantity improvements in order to realize watershed-wide social, economic, and environmental benefits. 

In 2017, Triangle J Council of Governments (TJCOG) began holding meetings to discuss One Water management concepts in the Jordan Lake watershed. Interest was so high, among so many different groups, including elected officials, that a JLOW advisory committee was formed to develop a workplan and begin moving forward on collaborative planning efforts. The Advisory Committee, NCDWR, and numerous stakeholders collaborated to develop a recommended One Water/Integrated Water Management framework for the Jordan Lake watershed as part of the Jordan Lake Nutrient Management Strategy Rules Readoption opportunity. 


One Water is a transformative approach to how we view, value, and manage water. The One Water approach views all water – from the water resources in our ecosystems to our drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater – as resources that must be managed holistically and sustainably in order to secure a bright, prosperous future for our children, our communities, and our country. A One Water approach can take many different forms, but has some unifying characteristics:

  • A mindset that all water has value 
  • A focus on achieving multiple benefits - economic, environmental, & social
  • Approaching decisions with a systems mindset
  • Utilizing watershed-scale thinking & action
  • Relying heavily on partnerships & inclusion




During 2018-2019, JLOW partners and stakeholders undertook a planning process to design a land conservation strategy using the best available science and geographic data to identify land protection priorities.  The results were included in an enhanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based Watershed Protection Model that spatially identifies prioritized locations to invest in land conservation. Check out the final Conservation Strategy here.


During the 2016 legislative short session the North Carolina General Assembly approved a special provision in the annual budget bill, House bill 1030, Section 14.13(a) “Development of New Comprehensive Nutrient Management Regulatory Framework.” This section directs UNC-Chapel Hill to “oversee a continuing study and analysis of nutrient management strategies and compilation of existing water quality data specifically in the context of Jordan Lake and Falls Lake.”  Some components of this work for Jordan Lake included:

  • Cataloguing and reviewing water quality data sets collected throughout the Jordan Lake watershed to identify discernible trends and also conducting additional water quality sampling to address data gaps.
  • Evaluating reservoir vulnerability to eutrophication, including harmful algal blooms, relative to nutrient and sediment loads, streamflow patterns, and climate, for both current conditions and future scenarios.
  • Identifying major sources of nutrients and sediments to Jordan Lake and the timing of loading.
  • Evaluating likelihood of nutrient mitigation through the implementation of best management practices, regulatory measures and restoration efforts.
  • Evaluating innovative financing mechanisms for stormwater controls and analysis of costs and benefits of water quality improvement.
  • Reviewing nutrient strategies from other states, including the Chesapeake Bay Program, and analyzing the impact those strategies have had on water quality.
  • Engaging with communities and stakeholders throughout the watershed through listening sessions, focus groups, etc.

Final UNC Collaboratory Reports (December 2019)