At the core of our mission is to preserve and protect the waters of the Catawba-Wateree River Basin. Our efforts to preserve the quality waters in our basin for future generations takes on many different forms. We know that these waters have experienced damage over the years from misuse, unchecked pollution, development, and human irresponsibility. It is our job to both mitigate the damages of those factors today and work to return our waters and their surrounding lands to their original form wherever possible.

Here are a few ways we preserve the waters of the Catawba-Wateree River Basin:


For the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, advocacy means writing, speaking, and acting on behalf of the best interests of the Catawba River and those who depend on and enjoy it. Whether it’s about the laws that effect the river, the use of the river as a resource, or the effect of human development around it, Catawba Riverkeeper advocates to protect the river in the following ways:

  • Holding polluters accountable
  • Comment on proposed legislative/regulatory actions
  • Participating in local development and planning initiatives
  • Participating in new rulemaking
  • Testifying at public hearings
  • Organizing community meetings
  • Meeting with elected officials
  • Reporting illegal activity related to the waterways
  • Recognizing companies and individuals who are examples of responsible environmental behavior
  • Engaging in litigation as a last resort against individuals/entities who willfully harm the environmental integrity of the Catawba-Wateree Basin

Pure Farms, Pure Waters

Pure Farms, Pure Waters is the Waterkeepers Carolina campaign to combat pollution from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). There are over 32 million factory farm-raised chickens in the Catawba basin on nearly 800 industrial agricultural operations.

NPDES Permit Review

There are over 300 permitted discharges of pollution into the river. Every 5 years these permits come up for comment, adjustment, and renewal. Catawba Riverkeeper reviews these permits to identify any entities who are not in compliance, or whose permits are inadequate.

South Fork River Health Project

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.

Habitat Enhancement

Catawba Riverkeeper enhances wildlife habitat through programs like invasive species mitigation and projects at the Outdoor Classroom in the Southern Basin.

Northern Basin Watershed Planning

Thanks to a grant from the NC Land and Water Fund, Catawba Riverkeeper has hired a Northern Basin Coordinator to create a watershed plan for the Northern Basin (upstream of Lake Norman to the Headwaters in Old Fort, NC)

Litter Abatement

Catawba Riverkeeper has multiple Litter Abatement programs: Riversweep, Lake/Stream Cleanups, Litter Gitters, microplastic monitoring, and Tactical Cleaning. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, we annually remove over 50,000 lbs of trash from our waterways.