The Catawba Rivers runs for an impressive 220 miles long making it one of the lengthier rivers in the Carolinas, and consequently, the main provider of utility water and energy for dozens of cities and towns. Some of these developed regions include highly populated areas such as Charlotte, Rock Hill, Asheville, Morganton, and Great Falls. In total, the water that flows through the Catawba has been estimated to provide energy and utility services to nearly 2 million people. The demand not only comes from residents in both North Carolina and South Carolina, but also from the 11 hydropower plants, 4 coal plants, and 2 nuclear power facilities along with the many paper plants, textile factories and chemical facilities on the shores of the Catawba. So who have a voice in the management of the Catawba River?

Currently, there are two major proposed advisory plans on management of the Catawba River: the Duke Energy Catawba-Wateree Relicensing plan and the Catawba-Wateree Water Supply Master Plan. Both plans discuss possible allocations of water that will promote sustainability of Catawba-Wateree River to support municipal water supply, energy production, environmental resources and public recreation. These documents are drafted collectively by a number of community members and thus can provide insight on who is and isn’t allowed in the conversation on the issue of management of the Catawba River.


Duke Energy Catawba-Wateree Relicensing Plan (85 stakeholders)

  • Duke Energy
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Catawba Indian Nation
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Forest Service
  • Wildlife Federation
  • Fishing

*For the full list of stakeholders involved, visit here


Catawba-Wateree Water Supply Master Plan (19 Stakeholders)

Catawba Regional  Council of Governments (COG) Mt. Island Lake Marine Commission The NC Conservation Fund
Centralina Regional COG NC Division of Water Resource Newton, NC
Western Piedmont Regional COG NC Wildlife Resources Commission Kershaw County, SC
Isothermal Regional COG SC Dept. of Health & Env. Control Resolute Forest Products
Central Midlands COG SC Department of Natural Resources International Paper
Lake Norman Marine Commission Catawba Wateree Relicensing Coalition Coalition Siemens Westinghouse
Lake Wylie Marine Commission


There are some overlaps in stakeholders between the Duke Energy Catawba-Wateree Relicensing Plan and the Catawba-Wateree Water Supply Master Plan. However, there is a lack of communication between the two groups. Moreover, some important stakeholders are missing in the picture. Even though North Carolina’s agricultural industry contributes $78 billion to the economy, accounts for more than 17% of the state’s income, and employs 16% of the work force, agriculture is not included in either plan.

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 (Duke Energy 2015). 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 has shown, court cases and litigation is rarely a cost effective technique to resolve disagreements over allocation (Huffman 117). 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.