Catawba River: A Ticking Time Bomb

The idea concentrating around the Catawba River was one of the first discussed. The Catawba River begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, flows through Charlotte metropolitan area, and empties into Lake Wateree, SC as the lake’s main tributary. The Catawba is at great risk to huge amounts of pollution as side effects of population growth and development in North Carolina.  The banks of the Catawba are home to numerous coal burning power stations. These power stations produce great amounts of pollution in the form of ash waste in ash ponds. These ash ponds also contain many chemicals that are harmful to both humans and the environment such as mercury.  According the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on coal combustion residues with high hazard potential ratings, a large number of the “high hazard units” or ash ponds are located on the banks of the Catawba River. Besides the direct pollution by the power plants, storm water runoff from roads and urban areas also pose a threat to the Catawba. Due to the large amount of pollution located on the banks of the Catawba River, American Rivers an advocacy group named the Catawba River system America’s “Most Endangered River”.

Environment North Carolina is a citizen’s advocacy group who focus on the environmental problems facing the state of North Carolina. Environmental North Carolina fielded a study concerning the pollutant levels in the Catawba River.  According to the ENC industrial corporations located along the banks of the Catawba River released an estimated 79, 268 pounds of carcinogenic chemicals into the Catawba in 2009. This is the 2nd highest amount in a single body of water in the nation.

Currently there is one main organization known as the Catawba River Foundation  has taken charge in advocating for and educating the public on the potential dangers threatening the Catawba River. CRF heads many sub-organizations that all aim at preserving the Catawba. The CRF relies heavily on volunteerism to combat pollution on the nearly three hundred mile long Catawba. Volunteers participate in annual events aimed on cleaning up the Catawba and its surrounding lakes. The CRF also placed great importance on educating youth as well as public officials on the threats to the Catawba in holds of inducing action.

Although there are organizations that are attempting to stem the pollution into the Catawba, many similarities can be drawn to certain films watched in class. Although the pollution of drinking water might not cause a global catastrophic change in weather, similarities can be drawn to the Children of Men.  Perhaps the reason for the mass sterilization of people around the globe can be attributed to additives causing adverse health effects in our drinking water. Or perhaps we will one day see the “I am Legend” effect once we have consumed too much harmful chemicals.  I’m not saying that I believe we will all turn into mutants reduced to basic instincts, but I am saying that we are not fully aware of the side effects of what we put into our bodies. Things have a huge chance of turning south unless we make a genuine effort of taking better care of our sources of food and water.


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