Our Work

The Catawba Riverkeeper protects, advocates for, and educates about the Catawba River through a variety of programs administered by CRF staff and a network of volunteers. Information about these programs is provided below.

There are three primary components to the activities of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation: protection, education and advocacy. We have received numerous Awards for our programs and Accomplishments.


Riverkeeper in Kayak

The Catawba Riverkeeper Staff

Knowledgable, experienced and dedicated best describe the Catawba Riverkeeper staff. Led by Executive Director Emilee Syrewicze, their primary goal is to fulfill the principles of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation mission statement: Advocacy, Education and Protection for the Catawba-Wateree River basin. 

 Emilee joined Catawba Riverkeeper in 2015. Using her previous non-profit experience she is innovating ways to advance our mission and shape our future. Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins provides the pivotal role as program director for the foundation’s efforts. Working closely with scientists, politicians, citizens and others who can affect the health and future of the basin, Sam is the person who represents Catawba Riverkeeper on the front lines day in and day out. For the public he provides accurate, science-based information about your water and the issues affecting it. Associate Director Diana Daniels coordinates several facets of Catawba Riverkeeper’s effort in marketing, events and grant-based fundraising. She also plays a key role in CRF communications with our members. Lauren Kim is the newest addition to the Catawba Riverkeeper staff and leads our volunteer outreach and coordination. Lauren’s main goal is to organize and support our Lakekeepers, Covekeepers and others who step up to further Catawba Riverkeeper’s mission. Our small but energetic staff relies on the vital contributions of the many people who give freely of their time as CRF volunteers. Much of Catawba Riverkeeper’s work dependents on knowing and observing the state of the Catawba-Wateree basin. Since our staff can’t be everywhere it is essential for us to rely on our volunteer base to be the “eyes and ears” of the Foundation.

Clean-Up Days

Briar Creek Stream Cleanup by MPUMC and CRFThe Catawba Riverkeeper sponsors and/or participates in various stream, river and lake cleanup efforts. For more information about the annual Riversweep event on Lake Wylie, click here. For information about the Islandkeepers and Adopt-an-Island cleanup program, click here.


The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation seeks to educate the public and public officials about issues affecting the Catawba River through a variety of activities ranging from field research & publication of reports to one-on-one meetings, press conferences, and on-the-water educational programs. 

Group Presentations

Elementary school class on Sugar CreekThe Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is happy to provide a speaker to groups to talk about issues relating to the Catawba River. Depending upon the topic requested and the size of the group, the speaker may be a seasoned volunteer or a member of the Foundation staff. Although we do not charge for presentations, we request that groups consider making a donation to the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. To request a speaker, please contact our office (704-679-9494) or email Emilee Syrewicze (emilee@catawbariverkeeper.org). For an example of a presentation about CRF and current issues, Click Here.

Kayaking Program & Family Eco-Tours

The Catawba Riverkeeper believes that it is essential to the future of the Catawba River to bring as many people as possible into contact with the Catawba River. People who come into contact with the River will have a greater understanding of the River and care more about protecting the River. Kayaker with Spider LilliesThus, the Catawba Riverkeeper recently began a Youth Kayaking Program and conducts periodic
Eco-Tours in different parts of the Catawba Basin. The Youth Kayaking program was made possible by a grant from REI, which enabled the purchase of 20 kayaks and related equipment.  The Riverkeeper takes groups of youths paddling on the water throughout the summer months.  More information about the Youth Kayaking Program is available at Catawba Riverkeeper Environmental and Education Kayaking Program. The Catawba River Eco-Tours include the Spider Lily Eco-Tour through the world's largest collection of spider lilies in late May or early June, as well as a fall leaf eco-tour. These trips are suitable for all ages and abilities as long as the participants are in reasonably good health. Information about the eco-tours are available by clicking on the following links: Fall Leaf Tour, or Spider Lily Eco-Tour.


We periodically publish a printed newsletter and we send out electronic newsletters approximately twice a month. Past newsletters can be viewed by clicking on the following link: Newsletters.


IBT Hearing May 2007As an advocate for the Catawba River, Catawba Riverkeeper uses various tools to try to affect public and private actions that affect the River. These tools include commenting on proposed public actions, participating in new rulemaking, testifying at public hearings, organizing community meetings, meeting with public officials, reporting illegal activity, recognizing companies and individuals that are examples of responsible environmental behavior, and litigating against individuals and entities that take actions to harm the Catawba River.  


Catawba Riverkeeper organizes and participates in various other events ranging from environmental film festivals to tree planting days. Please monitor the calendar section of our website for more information about upcoming events.

More information about CRF: 



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