Stormwater Issues

Stormwater and runoff are the primary reason that most urban and suburban streams in the Catawba-Wateree basin fail to meet basic water quality standards. As the region grows, these problems will become more prevalent unless we encourage low-impact development for future growth.

In most urban and suburban areas, stormwater is causing creeks to fail to meet water quality standards.  Stormwater both disrupts the normal flow of creeks and negatively impacts water quality.  The biggest concern is that many creeks are no longer considered safe for sustained human contact.  


The largest urban center in the Catawba-Wateree basin is Charlotte, which is located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.  The most recent data (reported in January 2015) indicate that none of the streams in Mecklenburg County fully meet the water quality standards. Most of the streams in rural and suburban areas partially meet the standards and most the urban streams fail to meet the standards.

January 2015 Mecklenburg County Stream Use Support Index Map

The Stream Use Support Index is based on a compilation of a variety of factors, including measurements of fecal coliform bacteria, the presence of various common pollutants, and the status of the biological habitat.  Mecklenburg County has produced an excellent video explaining how they assess the quality of the water in local creeks.


It is possible to restore urban streams, but it is an expensive process. A better option is to prevent problems by encouraging new development to minimize its impact on streams through use of low-impact design techniques.  Common low-impact design techniques include bigger buffers around creeks, greenways along waterways, less impervious area, and more mixed use development.  Fortunately, most people find that low-impact development is not only better for the environment, but also a nicer place to live and work.

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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
More news…
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

fish consumption chart crop

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