A collaboration of academia, government, industry and the public, the LCFRP is headquartered in and administered by the Aquatic Ecology Laboratory at the University of North Caorlina Wilmington’s Center for Marine Science.  Program objectives are to develop an understanding of the fundamental scientific processes shaping and controlling the aquatic ecology of the Cape Fear River system and provide a mechanism for information exchange and public education. Numerous physical, chemical, and biological measurements are collected at thirty-four different sites on a regular basis so biologists, chemists, physicists, and geologists will be able to understand freshwater, estuarine, and nearshore marine processes in the Cape Fear River basin. This research will complement and refine the current basinwide management plans being developed by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Currently a program in the Middle and Upper Cape Fear River Basins are performing similar monitoring activities. With the commencement of monitoring in all three basins regulators will have comprehensive scientific based information with which to form educated decisions regarding management activities in the Cape Fear River basin.

Mission and Objectives

The mission of the Cape Fear River Program is to develop an understanding of processes which control and influence the Cape Fear River and to provide a mechanism for information exchange and public education. Specific objectives include:

  • Develop, implement, and manage a basin-wide coordinated physical, chemical, and biological water quality monitoring program. Point, non-point, and naturally occurring sources will be considered in developing the monitoring plan.
  • Interact with regulatory agencies, academic institutions, local industries, and other groups to determine additional studies and analysis needed to develop an effective and successful management plan. Initiate the studies and assist in securing funding to conduct the research.
  • Develop scientific information to provide environmental education about the basin targeting point and non-point source contributors and produce reports to identify changes or trends.
  • Develop, consolidate, and maintain a data base on the Cape Fear River Basin, including historical and current data, and made data available to public and private requesters including regulatory agencies.

Why is the Cape Fear River Important?

The Cape Fear River winds for 200 miles through the heart of the North Carolina piedmont, crossing the coastal plain and emptying into the great Atlantic Ocean near Southport.  The river begins near Greensboro and Winston-Salem as two rivers, the Deep River and the Haw River. These two rivers converge near Moncure to form the Cape Fear River. The Black River joins the Cape Fear 15 miles above Wilmington and the Northeast Cape Fear River enters the system at Wilmington. The 35 miles of river between Wilmington and the ocean is called the Cape Fear Estuary because of the tidal influence and saline waters. This area of the river is extremely important for saltwater animals because of its function as a nursery for juvenile fishes, crabs and shrimp. The Cape Fear River system is North Carolina’s largest river system whose basin covers 9,000 square miles and encompasses streams in 29 of the state’s 100 counties, and is the most industrialized of all of North Carolina’s rivers.

The river is an important natural resource that supports many uses including:

  • Industry
  • Agriculture
  • Transportation
  • Recreation
  • Drinking water
  • Aesthetic Enjoyment
Advisory Board icon

Lower Cape Fear River Program Advisory Board

The Lower Cape Fear River Program Advisory Board consists of representatives from organizations which have an interest in the Cape Fear River as a natural resource. The following is a list of organizations which actively participate on the advisory board.

Regional Representation
  • Bladen County
  • Brunswick County
  • Cape Fear Council of Governments
  • Cape Fear River Assembly
  • City of Clinton
  • City of Wilmington
  • Columbus County
  • Duplin County
  • Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority
  • New Hanover County
  • North Carolina Coastal Federation
  • North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, Inc.
  • North Carolina Forestry Association
  • North Carolina State Ports Authority
  • Pender County
  • Sampson County
  • Triangle J Council of Governments
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Monitoring Coalition Members
  • Archer Daniels Midland Company
  • Beulaville, Town WWTP
  • City of Clinton
  • Carolina Beach, Town WWTP
  • Cape Fear PUA NSWWTP
  • Cape Fear PUA SSWWTP
  • Pender County Utilities
  • Elementis Cr
  • Fortron Industries, LLC
  • Global Nuclear Fuels-Americas, LLC
  • International Paper
  • Stepan Company. (Invista)
  • Mt. Olive, Town WWTP
  • NE Brunswick Regional WWTP
  • Brunswick Regional Water & Sewer H2G0
  • Duke Energy Progress, Sutton Plant
  • Warsaw, Town WWTP
Regional Representation
  • Director, Center for Marine Science
  • NC Regulatory Agencies
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
Technical Committee icon

Lower Cape Fear River Program Technical Committee

The Lower Cape Fear River Program Technical Committee is responsible for setting up and guiding the water quality monitoring activities. The following is a list of organizations which actively participate on the Technical Committee.

  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Center for Marine Science
  • Corning Incorporated
  • NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality
  • Cape Fear River Watch
  • NC State Ports Authority
  • New Hanover County, WWTP
  • ESD/Sweeney Water Plant
  • Cape Fear Community College, Marine Technology
  • Wilmington Public Utilities
  • Carolina Power & Light Co.
  • Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas
  • Town of Southport
  • Tetra Tech
  • Harris Environmental Center
  • PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer
  • Cape Fear River Assembly, Inc.
  • PWC of Fayetteville
  • KoSa
  • Dupont of Wilmington
  • City of Wilmington
  • Occidental Chemical Corporation
  • Town of Burgaw
  • Town of Mount Olive
  • Town of Beulaville, WWTP
  • International Paper, Riegelwood Mill
  • Town of Carolina Beach
  • Dupont Dacron
  • DWQ Planning Branch
  • Town of Belville
  • Fortron Industries
  • Oxford Laboratories, Analytical and Consulting Chemists
  • Town of Warsaw
  • US Geographical Survey, Water Resources Division
  • Wright Corporation
  • NC Forest Service
  • Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority
  • Cape Fear Resource Conservation & Development, Inc.
  • BASF, Inc.
  • US Army Corps of Engineers