Our 2019 lake recreation will begin on Saturday, March 23 and will end on Sunday, November 10.

Links to sections below: Recreation days and hours  |  Contact us  |  Boating  |  Directions to Cane Creek Reservoir   |  Directions to University Lake  |  Fees  |  NC fishing licenses  |  Body contact with water not allowed  |  2018 Annual Lakes Recreation Report   |  Picnicking  |  Pets   |  Safety  |  For people with disabilities   |  Lake rules   |  Birding on Wednesday mornings at the Cane Creek Reservoir from mid-November to mid-March  

Hours and days during the lake recreation season

In the recreation season, our lakes will normally be open 6:30 AM* - 6 PM* on the following days.**

University Lake:             Fridays** through Sundays
Cane Creek Reservoir:    Fridays** and Saturdays

We close in bad weather.

** Our lakes are open for the Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day holidays and closed on Good Friday if it occurs during our lake season (for example, on March 30, 2018).

To contact us

University Lake:            919-942-8007; e-mail: University Lake

Cane Creek Reservoir:  919-942-5790; e-mail: Cane Creek

To sign up for electronic news releases about recreation at our lakes (or OWASA other topics), please click here.


We offer kayaks, canoes and flat-bottomed boats for rent. (Please see the fees listed below.)

Citizens may use small private boats if they are brought in or on a car or truck; are clean of mud, vegetation, etc.; and are inspected by our lake staff. (Boats on trailers are not permitted.)

The limits on private boats are intended to help prevent aquatic weeds, which cause problems for fish and water treatment, from getting into the reservoirs.

To help protect water quality, we allow only electric motors at University Lake and the Cane Creek Reservoir. You may use your own electric motor after we inspect it for aquatic weeds, etc. or you may rent an OWASA electric trolling motor.

Directions to University Lake

  • Click here for interactive University Lake Recreational Facilities Map.
  • Vicinity Map
  • From the east: follow Main Street west through Carrboro to Jones Ferry Road; turn left onto South Old Fayetteville Road; go 400 feet and turn right onto University Lake Road, the entrance road to University Lake.
  • From the west: follow NC 54 or Jones Ferry Road east and turn right (south) onto Old Fayetteville Road; follow Old Fayetteville to University Lake Road, the entrance road to University Lake.

Directions to Cane Creek Reservoir

Lake recreation fees

We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, checks with proper identification, and cash. An identification card with a photo is required for renting a boat. We accept identification cards from the Faith ID Network. The minimum age for renting a boat is 16.


OWASA Customer or Orange County Resident

Other Citizens

Boat rental (flat bottom or canoe)

$4.50 plus lake use fee(s) per person

$8 plus lake use

fee(s) per person

Kayak rental

$15 plus lake use

fee(s) per person

$20 plus lake use

fee(s) per person

Lake use fee, ages 13 to 64

$4.50 per person

$5.50 per person

Lake use fee—child (under 13)

$2 per person

$2.50 per person

Lake use fee-- senior citizen (65 and older)


$2.50 per person

Launch fee for a private boat (for inspection by OWASA)

$3.50 plus lake use fee(s) per person

$7 plus lake use

fee(s) per person

Electric trolling motor rental



Individual pass for boat rentals


not offered

Individual pass for lake use (ages 13-64)


Individual pass to rent a boat and electric motor


GROUP pass for 3 people--boat rental


GROUP pass for 3 people--boat and electric motor rental


Fishing Licenses

Under State law, a fishing license is necessary for anyone 16 or older except on July the Fourth. For more information on licenses, please contact the NC Wildlife Resources Commission at 888-2huntfish (888-248-6834) or, or please see the license information on the Commission's website, You can purchase a State fishing license by mail, through the NC Wildlife Commission's website, and at other places including Wal-Mart and Dick's Sporting Goods.

Swimming and other body contact with lake water are not allowed because our lakes are public water supplies. For example, we do not allow use of float tubes, paddleboards and sailboards; or carrying boats into the water.


We have free picnicking and sunbathing areas at both lakes. The Cane Creek Reservoir also has a 0.25-mile nature trail. 


To protect water quality, pets are required to be on a leash at all times at our lakes. No pets are allowed in our boats and domestic animals are not allowed within 50 feet of the water.


All citizens who use the lakes are encouraged to put safety first.

  • Both lakes are alcohol-free facilities.
  • Life jackets are available in various sizes for adults and children at no charge, and we have a few life jackets for infants. However, people with unusual size requirements or other special circumstances may need to bring their own life jackets. Under Federal and State rules, all lake users are required to use a properly fitted lifejacket or  equivalent flotation device suitable for the person’s size and weight.
  • For more recommendations about boating safety, please click here.

For people with disabilities

Citizens with disabilities can receive assistance from OWASA staff as needed to enjoy boating and other recreation at our lakes. University Lake has a fishing dock for use by people with disabilities.

Lake recreation rules

OWASA prohibits the flight of unmanned aircraft, including drones and other model aircraft, in the airspace over its facilities and the control of unmanned aircraft from its property.

 Birding from mid-November to mid-March

On Wednesdays from 7 to 11 AM from mid-November through mid-March, citizens are invited to do birdwatching at our Cane Creek Reservoir. However, the lake will not be open for birding on the Wednesday after Christmas.

There is no charge for birdwatching from public areas at the reservoir. Access to the lake  will be through the entrance on the north side of NC 54 west of Stanford Road. Boating is not allowed.