Bringing missing stakeholders in conversation

Between the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Master Plan and the Duke Energy Relicensing
it is revealed that there are a multitude of stakeholders that are at play in managing the river but are not in direct conversation. In the Catawba-Wateree Master Plan, Duke Energy, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and various utility companies are all consulted. Numerically, it is a logical choice – Duke Energy and public water companies use over ninety percent of the water. Through Duke Energy’s relicensing plan, which included the formation of the Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group, represents eighty-five organizations, including wildlife, native Americans, and conservation nongovernmental organizations.4

To include stakeholder inclusivity, we propose two modifications to the Master Plan, which, in most parts, is an effective plan in managing the quantity of water in the river. The first modification is to bring into conversation members of the Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Agency with the organizations that served as advisors for the Master Plan. Since Duke is involved in both groups, it could be argued that Duke Energy is representing the Drought Management Agency. Duke, however, might drown out the more specific concerns of those eighty-five members for their own needs, like using the water for generating electricity. Considering the fact that the population surrounding the Catawba-Piedmont region is expected to grow, it is logical to assume that the water required for energy generation through hydroelectric dams and human consumption will increase in the coming decades, further excluding stakeholders representing recreation and wildlife organizations. By including them now when water has not reached potential level of shortages, these organizations can play in a role in managing the Catawba River.

The other modification is to include representatives of the agriculture community in the water management plan. According to Duke Energy’s website, only the two groups mentioned above, Catawba-Wateree Water Management and Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group, have been in conversation about water management. In neither list was agriculture as an industry represented. While the current percentage of water used for agriculture is minimal, it can increase in the nearby future, especially if other agricultural hotspots in this country like California declines due to the recent drought. It is important to include this stakeholder as the previous conflict over allocation of the river between the two Carolinas led to a Supreme Court Case. As other examples of water management in this country have shown, court cases and litigation is rarely a cost effective technique to resolve disagreements over allocation. Since the case set a precedent by allowing private actors like Duke Energy to petition the court regarding water rights, it is now possible for other private actors to be involved, like agriculture, in legal territories that are usually exclusive to government entities. Instead, this problem can be more effectively resolved by preemptively including stakeholders like agriculture before it comes down to legal solutions.


Huffman, James L. “Comprehensive River Basin Management: The Limits of Collaborative, Stakeholder-Based, Water Governance.” Natural Resources Journal 49 (2009): 117. Print.

Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group Master Plan

South Carolina v. North Carolina, 558 U.S. 256 (2010)

143-215.22H. Registration of water withdrawals and transfers required