2020 Lake Recreation Season Opening on Limited Basis

Orange Water and Sewer Authority would like to thank everyone who has worked with us over the last few months to safely open Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake for a recreation season in 2020, although it has looked much different than in years past. The reservoirs will not be open for recreation on Labor Day this year. Additionally, OWASA will be closing the recreation season at Cane Creek on Saturday, October 31, and University Lake on Sunday, November 1. Read more here.

To help mitigate the spread of the virus, only a certain number of visitors will be permitted at each lake per day. To ensure fairness, OWASA will be randomly drawing names of visitors permitted at the lakes after names are submitted by following the instructions below.

  • OWASA will not be renting any equipment to visitors at this time
  • Small, private boats must be brought in or on car or truck (no trailers permitted)
  • A boating permit to either lake will be allowed EITHER one boat with a maximum of two occupants OR two individual kayaks under one permit
  • Bank and pier fishing slots will not be allowed a visitor
  • The gates to each reservoir will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 9 a.m. for entry to those with reservations
  • Bring photo identification matching name on permit
  • Payment of lake use and boat launch fees will be limited to debit/credit cards ONLY at this time
  • Please read through full guidance on lake use below

The application window for Friday, October 23, through Sunday, October 25, will be open Monday and Tuesday, October 19 and 20.


This competition has ended.
Competition closed on 2020-10-21 03:00 (local time)
Current local time is 2020-10-21 00:01:53


Thank you for your interest in the limited opening of OWASA’s reservoirs for recreation.

Boating, kayaking, fishing, birding — there’s plenty to do at the lakes serving as your water supply. Spring through fall, our reservoirs are open to the public every weekend.


However, as our lakes are public water supplies, swimming and other body contact with lake water are not allowed. We do not permit float tubes, paddleboards and sailboards, or carrying boats into the water.


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


Weather permitting, our lakes open 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the following days:

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

Both lakes will be closed on Labor Day 2020 to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The sun is shining, waves lapping quietly on the hull — a leisurely weekend boat ride is a classic activity.

While OWASA is not renting equipment at this time, you may bring your own boat, with certain limitations. Following inspection by our lake staff, you may use small private boats — clean of mud and vegetation — brought in or on a car or truck. We do not permit boats on trailers, nor do we allow gas motors. You may use your own electric motor after a quick inspection. No pets are allowed on boats.

Limits we enforce on private boats protect water quality. For example, if your boat isn’t squeaky clean, it could spread aquatic weeds and algae, causing problems for fish and difficulties in water treatment.

Few thrills in life compare to a bite on the other end of the line. Fishing is a rewarding hobby for people of all ages. Largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, a variety of sunfish, and more may be found in both our lakes, and their largemouth fisheries are especially noted as some of the finest in the Piedmont.

You may bring your own boat (per our limitations above) to access fishing in either lake. However, bank fishing is permitted in certain designated areas, and University Lake has a fishing dock.

Per State law, a fishing license is necessary for anyone 16 or older except on the Fourth of July. You can purchase a State fishing license by mail, through the NC Wildlife Commission’s website or at sporting goods stores. For more information on licenses, please contact the NC Wildlife Resources Commission at 888-2HUNTFISH (888-248-6834) or licenses@ncwildlife.org.

Cane Creek Reservoir and the nearby woodland lays claim to some 200 unique species of birds, from songbirds and waterfowl to raptors like ospreys and bald eagles. Every Wednesday outside of the lake recreation season, you’re invited to partake in birdwatching between 7:00 and 11:00 a.m., free of charge. Just come through the entrance on the north side of NC-54, west of Stanford Rd. Boating is not allowed at these times.

Shore Activities

For the landlovers, we have free picnicking and sunbathing areas at both lakes. Cane Creek Reservoir also has a quarter-mile nature trail.

Lake Safety

While we encourage you to have as much fun as possible at our lakes, we encourage all citizens who use the lakes to put safety first. Read our full list of lake rules and regulations.

Under Federal and State rules, all lake users are required to use a properly fitted flotation device suitable for the person’s size and weight. 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 special size requirements or other special circumstances may need to bring their own life jackets. Anyone using a kayak or canoe must wear an approved flotation device at all times.

We prohibit 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.

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 Fees

For all of our recreation fees, we accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and checks with proper identification. 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.

Service OWASA Customer or County Resident Other Citizens
Lake Use Fee: Ages 13-64 $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+) Free $2.50 per Person
Boat Rental (Flat-Bottom or Canoe) $4.50 + Lake Use Fee per Person $8 + Lake Use Fee per Person
Kayak Rental $15 + Lake Use Fee per Person $20 + Lake Use Fee per Person
Private Boat Launch Fee (for Inspection By OWASA) $3.50 + Lake Use Fee per Person $7 + Lake Use Fee per Person
Electric Trolling Motor Rental $15 $22
Individual Pass for Boat Rental $82 Not Offered
Individual Lake Use Pass: Ages 13-64 $46 Not Offered
Individual Boat & Electric Motor Rental Pass $163 Not Offered
GROUP Boat Rental Pass (Three People) $163 Not Offered
GROUP Boat & Electric Motor Rental Pass (Three People) $245 Not Offered


To University Lake

From the east: Follow Main St. west through Carrboro to Jones Ferry Rd. Turn left onto South Old Fayetteville Rd. Go 400 feet and turn right onto University Lake Rd.

From the west: Driving east on NC-54 or Jones Ferry Rd., turn right onto South Old Fayetteville Rd. Follow Old Fayetteville to University Lake Rd.

To Cane Creek Reservoir

From the east: Follow NC-54 west of Carrboro for about eight miles from Carrboro Plaza. The Cane Creek entrance is on the right side of NC-54, about a mile west of Stanford Rd.

From the west: Follow NC-54 east and go about one mile past Mebane Oaks Rd. to the Cane Creek entrance on the left side of NC-54.


University Lake
Phone: (919) 942-8007
Email: ulake@owasa.org

Cane Creek Reservoir
Phone: (919) 942-5790
Email: ccreek@owasa.org

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