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Water quality in the Catawba River basin’s mountain headwater streams and upper lakes is generally good. But downstream areas are experiencing increasing amounts of pollution from runoff and wastewater. For example, Lake James, the river’s cleanest lake, lies close to the Catawba’s headwaters. Lake Wylie, which straddles the North Carolina-South Carolina border, is much farther downstream.


With the rapid rate of growth in the Catawba River basin, it’s not surprising that sediment—particles of soil—is the basin’s primary pollutant. As well as muddying the water, sediment tends to bind to and carry other pollutants across the landscape and into waterways. Sediment also covers the spawning beds of fish and, by decreasing the depth of lakes, adds to invasive weed, mosquito and water-warming problems. Agriculture and home or road construction are typical sources of sediment pollution.


Sediment contains excessive amounts of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. In small amounts, these nutrients are beneficial to aquatic life. But excessive amounts can trigger algae blooms that reduce dissolved oxygen levels and sometimes cause fish kills. Homeowners can help reduce the impacts of runoff on water quality by keeping fertilizer, pesticides and yard wastes out of streets and storm drains.


Watershed Management


What is a Watershed?

Every body of water (e.g., rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, and estuaries) has a watershed. The watershed is the area of land that drains or sheds water into a specific receiving waterbody, such as a lake or a river. As rainwater or melted snow runs downhill in the watershed, it collects and transports sediment and other materials and deposits them into the receiving waterbody. WE ALL LIVE IN A WATERSHED!


What is Watershed Management?

Watershed management is a term used to describe the process of implementing land use practices and water management practices to protect and improve the quality of the water and other natural resources within a watershed by managing the use of those land and water resources in a comprehensive manner.


What is Watershed Management Planning?

Watershed management planning is a process that results in a plan or a blueprint of how to best protect and improve the water quality and other natural resources in a watershed. Very often, watershed boundaries extend over political boundaries into adjacent municipalities and/or states. That is why a comprehensive planning process that involves all affected municipalities located in the watershed is essential to successful watershed management.

Water Quality Planning


Why is watershed management important?

Runoff from rainwater or snowmelt can contribute significant amounts of pollution into the lake or river. Watershed management helps to control pollution of the water and other natural resources in the watershed by identifying the different kinds of pollution present in the watershed and how those pollutants are transported, and recommending ways to reduce or eliminate those pollution sources.


All activities that occur within a watershed will somehow affect that watershed’s natural resources and water quality. New land development, runoff from already-developed areas, agricultural activities, and household activities such as gardening/lawn care, septic system use/maintenance, water diversion and car maintenance all can affect the quality of the resources within a watershed. Watershed management planning comprehensively identifies those activities that affect the health of the watershed and makes recommendations to properly address them so that adverse impacts from pollution are reduced.


Watershed management is also important because the planning process results in a partnership among all affected parties in the watershed. That partnership is essential to the successful management of the land and water resources in the watershed since all partners have a stake in the health of the watershed. It is also an efficient way to prioritize the implementation of watershed management plans in times when resources may be limited.


Local Efforts

Regular WRC meetings to encourage regional cooperation and coordination of watershed activities. Meetings include networking opportunities, special presentations information sharing, coordination and program updates (2nd Wednesday of odd numbered months).


Lake Rhodhiss

Since the region has become aware of Lake Rhodhiss’s federal designation as an impaired surface water and given this issue regional priority. The WPCOG completed a comprehensive watershed restoration plan for Lake Rhodhiss in late 2009. Currently local governments are being encouraged to adopt and begin implementation of the twenty-two (22) recommendations in the Plan.


Lower Creek

Continued support for the Lower Creek Advisory Team whose mission is: To restore and protect Lower Creek and its tributaries, while increasing public awareness of local water quality issues.

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