Protecting all 225 miles of the Catawba-Wateree basin is the fundamental work of Catawba Riverkeeper. The challenge of this effort has been demonstrated repeatedly as the Catawba River has been named the most endangered river in the United States (American Rivers 2008) and the third most endangered in the Southeast United States (Southern Environmental Law Center 2012).

This doesn’t mean the Catawba ranks among the most polluted rivers in the United States, though there are currently more than 460 Permitted Discharges (legal point source water pollution) and countless unpermitted sources of pollution. Rather, these standings show the Catawba as a river threatened by trends of development, use, and poor water management. The disparity of the issues facing the river are as diverse as power generation by nuclear and coal sources to an increasing number of commercial concentrated animal feeding operations. With the support of our members and volunteers, Catawba Riverkeeper works every day to protect this valuable resource by protecting against these threats.

State of the River Report

In September 2020, Catawba Riverkeeper published the State of the River report to provide the public with a consolidated assessment of the river’s health, create a framework for tracking changes over time, and assimilate data from all relevant sources into a single archive.


  • Most recent year of data
  • All geographically relevant data
  • Focus on meeting the current needs of all users
  • The scores generated are a simplified interpretation of the underlying data


  • 4 Sub-watersheds
  • 5 Categories
    • Monitoring
    • Point Source Pollution
    • Non-Point Source Pollution
    • Water Quantity
    • Recreation
  • Likert Score (1-5)
    • 5 – Excellent
    • 1 – Very Poor

Full State of the River report (published September 2020).
State of the River Report Summary

Organizational Priorities

  • Stormwater – runoff from changes in land use
  • NPDES – Permitted liquid waste discharges
  • Bacteria – monitoring for fecal contamination
  • CAFOs – unregulated industrial animal waste

Other Initiatives

  • Invasive Species
  • Plastics
  • Harmful Algal Blooms – toxin producing algal blooms
  • Active construction – sedimentation from development
  • Drinking water – under and unregulated toxins
  • Coal ash – plant remediation and offsite fill