Mountain Island Lake Sampling Results

CRF collected water, sediment and fish tissue samples from Mtn. Island Lake on April 29, 2010. Analysis from an independent lab has found several heavy metal and PCB contaminants in those samples. This testing led to fish advisories being issued by North Carolina and South Carolina health officials in January 2011. Mountain Island Lake is the primary source of drinking water for Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Gastonia and Mount Holly.

     MIL water sample CU

A 2010 sampling at Mountain Island Lake near the Duke Energy coal ash ponds has shown the water, bottom sediment and fish adjacent to the discharge are contaminated with heavy metals and PCBs. Using grant funds, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation hired Pace Labs of Huntersville, NC to test three surface water samples, one sediment sample and a composite fish tissue sample from MIL largemouth bass. These five samples were analyzed for the presence of eight heavy metals and total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The results of the tests were revealed in a June 2010 Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation press release and June 17th, 2010 press event by then Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman. According to Merryman, the results show Duke Energy's coal ash ponds at Riverbend Steam Station are a direct source of heavy metal contamination of the Catawba River and its sediments at Mountain Island Lake. "The water and sediments near this coal ash pond outfall indicate a direct input of heavy metals into our source of drinking water," stated Merryman. "Duke Energy's 80-year old facility continues to legally discharge these poisons into our drinking water supply. This must come to an end!"  

MIL 2010 water test results chart

    For a larger version of the results chart click here 

"PCB concentration found during this sample also show an immediate need for the NC Department of Health and Human Services to determine if fish consumption advisories are warranted for this waterbody," added Merryman.

MIL Press event media

Local TV Crew at the Neck Road Access press event.

The elevated concentrations of pollutants are significant since Mtn. Island Lake serves as the primary drinking water resource for nearly 1 million people in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Gastonia and Mt. Holly. The out-flow of two Duke Energy coal ash ponds, a source of the contamination discharges into the lake upstream of those municipal water intakes. While several governmental entities have collected and analyzed samples from our River during the past decade the results of this testing takes months, if not years, to reach the public. Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation believes in regular independent testing of our lakes, water and fish to ensure the health and safety of the people who depend on it as a municipal drinking water supply.


   The map above shows the sample location and its location upstream of the municipal water intake for the City of Charlotte. For a larger view of the map click on the image.

Additional Information:

  • Click here to learn more about the testing at MIL and the sampling process 
  • For information about fish advisories issued by North Carolina and South Carolina health officials in January 2011, click here.
  • For a PDF of the CRF Sample Results Press Release click here
  •  A Channel 36-WCNC Charlotte news story about the sampling can be read here
  • A copy of the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Utilities 2009 Water Quality Report can be seen here.
  • For more information on the coal ash pond threat to drinking water issue, click here
  • For more information on coal ash waste, click here
  • Click here for a summary of mercury issues.
  • Click here for more information about PCB contamination
  • Go to the Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers page by clicking here 



 Go to the Catawba Riverkeeper Home Page by clicking here


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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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