Jordan Lake One Water

UPDATE! The JLOW Advisory Committee completed a vision and recommendations document in September 2021. We hosted a fall 2021 celebration of the end of Phase I and the beginning of Phase II on October 7, 2021.

Please address any questions to Emily Barrett at and Grace Messinger at 





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 will now be collaborating 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. Please see the Workplan and Project Timeline above for more information.


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


The goal of JLOW is to produce integrated watershed management recommendations for the Jordan Lake Watershed. The bulk of this responsibility will fall to workgroups formed to discuss specific topics and recommend appropriate actions. Communication between workgroups and the Advisory Committee will be key to success of JLOW.  The Advisory Committee will receive recommendations from the workgroups, formulate them into a cohesive plan, and present that plan of recommendations to the workgroups and larger JLOW community for review.

Workgroup 1: Identify Integrated Watershed Management Implementation Opportunities.

Identify projects and processes that support integrated watershed management. Related tasks may include:

1. Identify required system, policy, or behavior changes.

2. Identify and prioritize time limited pilot projects designed to expose obstacles to implementation.

Workgroup 2: Develop Evaluation Methods for Projects.

Determine how watershed management alternatives can be evaluated effectively and efficiently to compare estimated performance for supporting economic, quality of life, and environmental goals. Related tasks may include:

1. Develop testing questions to evaluate strengths, weaknesses, and triple bottom line benefits.

3. Identify returns on investment.

4. Develop a selection process.

Workgroup 3: Determine Feasible Monitoring and Reporting Procedures.

Tasks include developing and evaluating project performance monitoring, reporting and management adaptation processes can be set up.

1. How will performance of selected actions be tracked?

2. What metrics will be tracked and for what purposes.

3. Who will be responsible for tracking and reporting results?

Workgroup 4: Evaluate Potential Financing Structures

Tasks include exploring how to fund implementation of projects and management activities.

Workgroup 5: Evaluate Potential Organizational Structures

Tasks will aim to answer the following questions:

1. Will a formal organization be required to successfully implement a One Water approach in the Jordan Lake watershed?

2. What is the legal basis for such an organization?

3. Would a Board, Steering Committee, and/or paid staff be needed for this organization?

4. How will these individuals be selected and serve?

Jordan Lake One Water recognizes that a successful water management strategy relies upon a diverse set of stakeholders, partnerships, and collaboration. No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, water connects us all. It is important that your voice is heard. Please drop an anonymous comment in the Comment Box in the upper right hand corner, or sign up to participate on a workgroup! Feel free to contact Emily Barrett, Natural Resources and Resilience Program Manager at with any questions. 




Sign up below to receive updates on the JLOW efforts, including our monthly newsletter outlining workgroup meetings and progress.





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 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 include:

  • 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)