Historically, riparian rights are the rule of law regarding water access on the Eastern parts of the United
States, where water is plenty and the primary concern is about navigability. In this scenario, the near unlimited access to water granted by 143-215.22H makes sense since rivers like the Mississippi River has an abundance of water that has led to a history of flooding. The Catawba, however, does not have the abundance that is a trademark of other Southern rivers. Because of its dual role as both a provider of water and electricity to the people living around it, some of the rights offered to riparian rights owners, especially on water allocation, needs to be modified.
While this suggestion might be unprecedented, it would require a modification of the number 100,000 gallons per day, as dictated by 143-215.22H Registration of water withdrawals and transfers required, to a new number that is more in line with what the people in the Catawba-Piedmont region actually uses. This updated number, with proper enforcement, is necessary for the effective implementation of the Catawba-Wateree Master Plan, for the plan does not take into the account of the potential water that can be siphoned out of the reservoirs by riparian rights owners. By both reducing the quantity of water available to the individuals and enforcing this quantity limit, the various role-players in the Catawba-Wateree Water Master Plan better implement monitor the water levels at reservoirs and ensure there’s enough water for both human consumption and energy production.
We recommend that the local government and utility company both serve as monitoring services and enforcers for two reasons. First, the Pernell v. Henderson (1941) case dictated that local government does not have the authority to allocate the water that supersedes the riparian rights owners. Second, the success of the Catawba-Wateree Master Plan is, amongst other stakeholder, dependent on the ability of local utility companies and governments to ensure that there is enough water for both public consumption and energy production. By having the local government and utility monitor and enforce, with support from data by Duke Energy, who is currently monitoring water levels, it reinforces a hierarchy of power that allows utility companies to best manage the river’s water level on a local level to ensure that there is enough for all of the river’s users.