The Water of the Catawba
The many uses of the Catawba River's water including an interactive map of withdrawals and discharges
Like a popular hollywood starlet, everyone wants a piece of the Catawba River. And during normal rainfall years it seems there's always enough to go around. With the basin's 11 Duke Energy managed lakes at normal levels there's 739,022 acre-feet of water being stored for us to drink, bath in, boat on, use in industrial facilities, water our lawns and flush our toilets. That's 240,811,057,722 (240.81 billion) gallons of water in the chain of reservoirs from Lake James to Lake Wateree. In fact to serve as a source of water and electricity to over 1.3 million people it has been so impounded that in North Carolina the river's longest free-flowing section is just 17 miles long.
For virtually the entire 300 miles that it flows from its headwaters in the Carolina mountains to its confluence with the Congaree River in South Carolina the water of the Catawba is siphoned off, used, reused and added to before it is eventually allowed to find its way to the ocean. In 2006 water use totaled 420 million gallons per day (MGD) or 323 gallons for every man, woman and child within the river's domain.
After we withdraw and use this precious resource over 2 dozen municipal waste-water treatment plants return treated effluent (wastewater) either directly or through tributaries back to the river. The City of Charlotte Municipal Utilities Department discharged over 30 billion gallons alone in fiscal year 2008-09 through its three wastewater treatment plants. And it is important to remember, when it comes to wastewater discharges, we all live downstream from someone.
Map of Water Withdrawals & Discharges
The interactive Google map below provides a look at the locations of the municipal water treatment plants (WTP) and municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) along the Catawba River. Many of the information balloons on the map contain details about these facilities as well as clickable links to more information about water quality and plant performance reports.
Remember that this map only shows municipal withdrawals and discharges. Other entities along the river such as Duke Energy and other industrial and agricultural users also take and return water in the Catawba River Basin.