Clouds reflecting off the water at Lake Johnson

Managing Lakes in Raleigh

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Goal Priorities Lake Options Recent Projects

Did you know - all lakes in Raleigh are man-made? They were built to manage how water flows through the city when it rains. Lakes help control flood risk and provide a good ecosystem for wildlife. Water can also be stored for:

  • Mills;
  • Agriculture;
  • Drinking water supply; and,
  • Recreation. 


We're changing how we manage and invest in lakes. Our lake policy was last updated more than 10 years ago. The main focus of the updated policy is to protect the community and environment with a variety of lake options. 

There are more than 100 lakes in Raleigh. We will be assessing them for their stormwater and environmental benefits. Lake assessments will take place during watershed studies and other projects. 

View the policy


When we are working on a lake-specific project, we take into account several factors like: 

  • Public safety;
  • Reducing flood risk; 
  • Protecting waterways;
  • Benefit to the entire watershed; and, 
  • Regulatory compliance. 

Projects include planning, analysis, design, construction, and maintenance. 

Lake Options

Based on our findings during a project, we will identify the most effective way(s) to manage a lake. Solutions will vary based on location and needs. This process involves discussions with the community, the Stormwater Management Advisory Commission, and Raleigh City Council

Lake Preservation Keeping the shape of the lake the same with upgrades to spillways that carry water out of a lake. Other upgrades include the embankment (or foundation) of a dam that holds in water. 
Stream Restoration  Restoring a lake to a natural stream that helps water flow downstream.
Wetland Converting the lake to a man-made wetland. This improves water quality and wildlife habitat. This is an example of a 'closer-to-source control' that stores and cleans water directly on a site to reduce pollution.



Scott Bryant, PE
Stormwater Administrator 

Engineering Services
Service Categories:
Board, Commission or Committee:
Stormwater Management Advisory Commission
Related Services:
Stormwater SystemWatersheds in Raleigh