Monday, September 13, 2010

The Catawba River's uncertain future

Posted By on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 1:30 PM

The Statesville Record and Landmark took a a look at our river's future in their Sunday paper. You know the river I'm talking about, right? The river that supplies all of the water you use every day. The one that powers the electric company, and thus our lives. The one we play on and in, whether we call it Lake Norman or Lake Wylie or just "tha rivah."

Here's a peek:

The river and its mountain throne are one of the most pristine wildernesses anywhere east of the Mississippi, and are home to all kinds of wildlife, including black bears, deer, small mammals, salamanders, timber rattlesnakes and peregrine falcons.

The Linville River is a headwater stream of another river: the Catawba. The gorge is the beginning of a journey, from wilderness to civilization, from a feral mountain stream to a tamed chain of dammed-up lakes. It is also the beginning of a story; a story of the most precious resource the earth has to offer mankind. It is a story of water.

Almost everyone who lives in municipalities surrounding the Catawba River – Marion, Morganton, Hickory, Statesville, Mooresville and Charlotte to name a few – relies on the river for drinking water. And humans have relied on the Catawba for thousands of years, ever since Catawba tribes made their lives along the river.

Now people still use the Catawba for fishing, but it is also harnessed to generate electricity, to cool power stations, for boating and recreation and for many other purposes.

About 2 million people live in the Catawba-Wateree basin, and that number is still growing despite the recession. Rapid growth is putting a strain on water resources, and is one of the reasons why the American Rivers organization named the Catawba River the most endangered river in America in 2008 because of a lack of an overall plan for efficient water use, according to the organization’s website. In 2010, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) named the Catawba-Wateree basin one of the top 10 most endangered places in the Southeast, for the same reasons. Poor flow management, sedimentation runoff, excessive nutrients, industrial waste and other issues pose significant risks to the health of the river.

As long as humans live along the Catawba, their actions will impact the basin, for better or worse.

Read the rest of this article, by Tim Reaves, here.

Further reading: Is coal ash poisoning Charlotte's drinking water?

Reminder: The EPA will be in town tomorrow to conduct a hearing on coal ash tomorrow. Charotte is one of a handful of cities where the hearings will take place. The hearing will last all day, and into the night. Try to make it. Environmentalists are promising a show, but more important than that: You deserve to know what's going on with your water.

Here's a video about the Catawba River, from August 2009:

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