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River Basins

A river basin is the land that water flows across or under on its way to a river. Just as a bathtub catches all the water that falls within its sides, a river basin sends all the water falling on the surrounding land into a central river and out to an estuary or the sea.

Everyone lives in a river basin, even if you don't live near the water. The land that we live on eventually drains to a river or estuary or lake, and our actions on that land affect water quality and quantity far downstream. The topography of each basin determines the area that it drains, and for North Carolina, whether that water flows into the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.

Learn more about river basins through the resources below!

GIS Resources

Use our River Basin App to interact with all 17 river basins in North Carolina. Type your address in the search bar to find what river basin you are located in!

The River Basin StoryMap describes how river basins function, explains how humans and rivers are interconnected, and demonstrates how the decisions we make everyday affect water quality.

To learn more about GIS and see what other GIS resources we have, click here .

Story Maps

Check out our Story Maps for each of the state's 17 river basins:

Broad Little Tennessee Savannah
Cape Fear Lumber Tar-Pamlico
Catawba Neuse Watauga
Chowan New White Oak
French Broad Pasquotank Yadkin-Pee Dee
Hiwassee Roanoke  



The Office of EE, in partnership with other DEQ divisions including the Division of Water Resources and the Wildlife Resources Commission, has created informative river basin education materials that can be ordered free of charge. Click the links below for electronic versions of the materials or fill out this order form to have print copies sent to you in the mail, free of charge!

Discover NC's River Basins, a booklet with information on what river basins are, why they matter and how people affect them.

Individual phamphlets on each of NC's 17 river basins that highlight the unique ecology, environmental concerns and success of each basin.

Poster-sized map of NC's river basins (37" x 24")

Discover Your Ecological Address Whether you live in a busy city, on a farm in the country or somewhere in between, you have an ecological address.

Educator Guides
Download a guide for activities and curricula correlated to the River Basins materials and the N.C. Essential Standards! PDF or DOC
Division of Water Resources - Basin Wide Planning

Click here to see official water quality plans for each of the river basins from the Division of Water Resources, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.