Rain Gardens

Rain gardens can substantially reduce the impact on the environment from stormwater and building rain gardens is an easy way for homeowners to help minimize their contribution to water pollution.

Rain Garden

When rain falls on natural areas, such as a forest or meadow, it is slowed down, filtered by soil and plants, and allowed to soak back into the ground. When rain falls on impervious surfaces like rooftops, roads, and parking lots, rain does not soak into the ground, and storm water runoff is created.  An acre of impervious area results in approximately 26,000 gallons of runoff from a one-inch rain as compared to little or no run-off from a natural area.  Stormwater runoff picks up pollution such as fertilizer, pesticides, sediment, motor oil, litter, and pet and yard waste. It delivers these pollutants to local streams and rivers.

In most cities, stormwater runoff does not go to a treatment plant. Instead, the contaminated runoff flows directly into streams and rivers. Upstream from you, stormwater runoff goes into source of your drinking water. Downstream, other cities use your stormwater runoff for drinking water. During large rainfall events, stormwater runoff can cause flooding. Further, excess water flowing into streams will cause bank erosion problems.

Backyard rain gardens are a fun and inexpensive way to improve water quality and enhance the beauty of your yard or business. Rain gardens are placed between stormwater runoff sources (roofs, driveways, parking lots) and runoff destinations (storm drains, streets, streams).

A rain garden is a shallow depression in the ground that captures runoff from your driveway or roof and allows it to soak into the ground, rather than running across roads, capturing pollutants, and delivering them to a stream. Plants and soil work together to absorb and filter pollutants and return cleaner water through the ground to nearby streams. Rain gardens also reduce flooding by sending the water back underground, rather than into the street. Besides helping water quality and reducing flooding, rain garden plants provide habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife.

The rain garden fills with a few inches of water after a storm, and the water slowly filters into the ground. Because water is only in the rain garden for a day or two, it doesn’t become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

. Rain Garden


Information about constructing a rain garden

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Jan 25, 2017 NC Riverkeeper Report
From the perspectives of 12 NC Riverkeepers, this report discusses how multiple environmental issues pose challenges in the pursuit of clean, plentiful water. Whether you are in North Carolina or downstream in South Carolina, read this report about the state of environmental enforcement.
Dec 13, 2016 Community Foundation of Gaston County grants $5,000 to CRF for Riverkeeper Program
The Community Foundation will fund Catawba Riverkeeper's work in Gaston County.
Dec 12, 2016 A Successful Launch of our Water Education Program at Great Falls Elementary
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in partnership with 4-H Clemson Cooperative Extension successfully completed our pilot Education Outreach Program with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students from Great Falls Elementary.
Sep 27, 2016 Lake Wateree Fall Cleanup a Sweeping Success
86 volunteers collected 5,490 pounds of trash from Lake Wateree
Jun 13, 2016 Dozens of Youth Reached in Water Education Outreach Program Pilot Lessons
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Report Pollution in the Catawba River

Help protect your River! 

Tell your Riverkeeper if you see:

  • Sewage Overflows
  • Failure to control sediment from construction sites
  • Illegal clearing of buffer areas
  • Fish kills 
  • Unpermitted discharges
  • Other issues that concern you

Click here to fill out a pollution report or to report water pollution to Catawba Riverkeeper by phone, call 1-888-679-9494 or 704-679-9494.  In addition, to informing your Riverkeeper, you should also report spills or contamination to federal, state and local environmental officials.

To report South Carolina water pollution call 1-888-481-0125.

To report North Carolina spills or fish kills, call your local regional Department of Environment & Natural Resources office during normal business hours (704-663-1699 for most Catawba basin areas or (828) 296-4500 for Burke, Caldwell, McDowell and other mountain counties) or 800-858-0368 after hours.  (For more information on NC spill reporting, click here)


The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is a proud member of EarthShare North Carolina, the North Carolina Conservation Network, River Network and the Waterkeeper Alliance.  It also in in an alliance with Clean Air Carolina to address issues, such as sprawl, that cause air and water problems.

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Fish Advisories

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Fish consumption advisories have been issued throughout the Catawba-Wateree River basin.  Many of these advisories are the result of testing initiated by Catawba Riverkeeper and confirmed by state and local officials.  For a chart identifying fish types with the applicable advisories for the Charlotte area, click here.   For more information about the fish advisories, click here.

715 N. Church St., Suite 120 . Charlotte, NC 28202 . Phone: 704.679.9494 . Fax: 704.679.9559