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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Water Quality - Buffer Rule

Water Quality

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Tar-Pamlico Buffer Protection Rules link to rules 

Three rules govern riparian buffers in the basin. The main rule, called the buffer protection rule, requires that existing vegetated riparian buffers in the basin be protected and maintained on both sides of intermittent and perennial streams, lakes, ponds, and estuarine waters. This rule does not establish new buffers unless the existing use in the buffer area changes. The footprints of existing uses such as agriculture, buildings, commercial and other facilities, maintained lawns, utility lines, and on-site wastewater systems are exempt.

A total of 50 feet of riparian area is required on each side of waterbodies. Within this 50 feet, the buffer is divided into the following two zones:

Zone 1- the inner 30 feet closest to the waterbody is to remain undisturbed with the exception of certain activities.

Zone 2- the outer 20 feet must be vegetated, but certain additional uses are allowed.

Specific activities are identified in the rule as "exempt", "allowable", "allowable with mitigation" or "prohibited".  A list of activities in these categories can be found in the rule link at the top of this page.

The other two buffer rules are the buffer mitigation rule and the buffer program delegation rule. The mitigation rule defines the process applicants would follow to gain approval for activities that are identified in the buffer protection rule as "allowable with mitigation". It also outlines acceptable mitigation measures. The delegation rule lays out the criteria and process for local governments to obtain authority to implement the buffer rules within their jurisdictions.

Rules being considered by the EMC would consolidate a number of the Riparian Buffer Rules in the State including those for the Tar-Pamlico Basin. The intent of the consolidation of the buffer rules is to improve their clarity and consistency across areas where they are applied. If approved, these consolidated rules would replace those currently in place but not change existing buffer protection policies.

Other Rule Links:

DWR Buffer Program

Fact Sheet on the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse Buffer Rules

 

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