The South Fork River Health Project is developing a comprehensive plan to protect and restore the largest tributary of the Catawba in partnership with local municipalities, other non-profits, and for profit users of the river.

Throughout 2021, the partners on the South Fork River Health Committee have been meeting monthly to establish a comprehensive list of threats and opportunities facing the South Fork River Watershed. The outcome of those meetings and discussions is the South Fork River Health Committee Action Plan that will guide the work of these organizations in concert with state and federal officials to improve the water quality, flood resiliency, and recreational access of the South Fork River and its tributaries.

About the South Fork

In fall 2020, the Catawba Riverkeeper released the State of the River report. The report used 5 key indicators to determine the health of our 4 major sub-basins: monitoring, point source pollution, non-point source pollution, water quantity, and recreation. The South Fork sub-basin scored a 2.8 overall (1=poor, 5=excellent).

The South Fork scored a 2 in both the non-point source pollution and monitoring categories. Additionally, 6/10 of the largest flood events in Cramerton’s recorded history have occured in the last 5 years. Our South Fork Swim Guide sites failed to meet bacteria standards 30% of the weeks we sampled in summers 2019 and 2020. And finally, NC’s Department of Environmental Quality has not updated water quality data on its South Fork monitoring stations in 2 years.

We know the South Fork needs help. The South Fork River Health Project is a multi-year plan that relies on the participation of key stakeholders to improve the health of the South Fork.


The South Fork River Health project requires the collaboration of key
stakeholders including the Centralina Council of Governments, City of Gastonia, Town of McAdenville, Town of Cramerton, City of Belmont, Representative Virginia Fox, Senator Thom Tillis, Pharr, Catawba Lands Conservancy, and Catawba Riverkeeper.

Source Water Protection Tool

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, has partnered with the Catawba Wateree Initiative, Foothills Land ConservancyCatawba Lands Conservancy and Research Triangle Institute International to create a watershed prioritization tool to identify “hotspots” – drainage areas within the watershed that are the most critical for the conservation and protection of source water in the Catawba –Wateree basin.

The Source Water Protection Tool is an interactive tool that helps to assess the impacts of changes in climate, land use and water use on the resiliency of our water supply. Our Watershed Resilience Manager uses this tool along with a geospatial software to visualize both spatially and temporally different hydrological and water quality metrics. The results will inform and incentivize water resource planners, managers, land use planners, elected officials, and conservation organizations to systematically evaluate the impacts of land use changes and land conservation strategies to extend the capacity of the Catawba-Wateree River and make it more resilient in a changing future.

Stream and Shoreline Restoration

Catawba Riverkeeper is currently developing a stream and shoreline restoration program.

We work on restoration projects on an “as funded” basis and can help private landowners, communities, and municipalities find funding sources for projects.

If you have an area of stream or shoreline that needs attention, please contact Brandon Jones – for a consultation.