Rocky Branch Walnut Creek


Rocky Branch & Central Walnut Creek Watershed Study

Downtown/South Raleigh Area

We are doing a study of the Rocky Branch Watershed and the adjacent portion of the Walnut Creek Watershed located in southern downtown Raleigh.  The goal is to identify ways to improve the watershed by:

  • Reducing flooding impacts
  • Renewing stormwater pipes and infrastructure that is in poor condition
  • Improving water quality
  • Repairing streambanks

Study Area: In and near downtown Raleigh.

Project Details




Sheryl Smith, PE
Project Manager

Lead Department:
Engineering Services
Service Unit:




The study is being completed in phases. The first phase is beginning in spring 2023 and focuses on:

  • Initial public engagement,
  • Collecting field data on the location and condition of streams & stormwater infrastructure, and
  • Determining additional data needs to assess the watershed.

The second phase will include data evaluation, modeling and analyses, and identification of improvement projects. The study is anticipated to continue through 2024.

Current Work

Our field crews and consultants are performing surveys to determine:

  • Location, size, and type of stormwater infrastructure
  • Stream conditions and measurements of stream banks and channels

This work is anticipated to be complete by Fall 2023.

Next Steps

  • Collecting community feedback on stormwater issues and concerns through a public survey (anticipated in Spring 2023)
  • Initial public meeting (anticipated in Summer 2023)
Lead Department:
Engineering Services

About the Study Area

The watershed study area covers over six square miles and is shown in the map below.  This includes all of Rocky Branch Watershed and a portion of Walnut Creek Watershed.  These are two of the 36 watersheds in the city. 

The study area is roughly bounded on the west by I-440, on the north by Hillsborough Street and New Bern Avenue, on the east by Peyton Street, and on the south by Western Boulevard and Walnut Creek. 

The rain that falls within this boundary finds its way through stormwater pipes, ditches, and streams to Walnut Creek then to the Neuse River.


 Rocky Branch begins near Meredith College, flows southeast through the NC State Central Campus and along Western Boulevard and joins with Walnut Creek at near South Wilmington Street and I-40. Walnut Creek flows east to the Neuse River. Over 7 miles of the Rocky Branch Trail and Walnut Creek Trail greenways follow the path of these two streams through the watershed study area. 

Rocky Branch Walnut Creek

Rocky Branch, Walnut Creek, and their tributaries flow through several city parks within the watershed study area, including:

  • Pullen Park
  • Dorothea Dix Park
  • Chavis Park
  • Walnut Creek Wetland Park
  • Apollo Heights Park

Stormwater System

  • Stormwater infrastructure, like culverts, pipes and drains, help safely collect and carry stormwater runoff into the streams when it rains. Water can also flow through the system under roads, driveways, and bridges before it reaches streams.
  • There are over 85 miles of stormwater pipes in this watershed.  Approximately 34 miles are maintained by the City. The remainder are located on state, county, or private property.


You can zoom into the map below to see the location of the stormwater system and some recent stormwater projects. We maintain the areas in yellow. This is the stormwater system on City-maintained, public roads.