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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Cane Creek Reservoir

Throughout the 1950s, Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering Dr. Daniel Okun asked students to assess potential water sources for the university, and the students determined that Cane Creek, about twelve miles northwest of campus, would be the best choice. After Okun and his students' assessment was confirmed by a consultant from an environmental engineering firm, it seemed that a decision had been made. However, while Okun was on sabbatical in 1961, the university began considering Jordan Reservoir as a potential source. When Okun returned, he persuaded the Board that Cane Creek was a superior site. A dam was completed in 1977 as Chapel Hill recovered from a severe drought, and the three billion-gallon reservoir continues to serve as a water source for Chapel Hill and the university. The photo above shows Dr. Okun lecturing.