On Nov. 1st 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new 40-year operating licensing to Duke Energy to continue its Catawba-Wateree Hydroelectric Project, which involves the operation of 13 hydroelectric stations and 11 associated reservoirs in both North Carolina and South Carolina. The licensing is crucial because it will continue to support and sustain water usage for approximately 2 million people in both states (About the Catawba-Wateree River).
In the Duke Energy Catawba-Wateree Relicensing, a total of 85 organizations were represented in over 300 public meetings to collectively come up with a plan that will ensure the river will be managed in a balanced way and its resources can be protected for the next 40 years. Among these stakeholders are government agencies, in federal, state, and local (both county and city) levels. Catawba Indian Nation was also included in the decision-making process. Catawba Indians have lived along the Catawba River for at least 6,000 years now; the river has been an important part for the tribe for it provided both irrigation and food. The Catawba River is also a popular site for parks and recreation; over 10 million people visit the river each year to fish, kayak, swim, and etc (Recreation on the River). Thus, many parks and recreation agencies, such as American Whitewater and Mountain Island Lake Association, are considered stakeholders in this process. A couple of Wildlife Federation and Wildlife Resources Commission were also included in the discussion of plans for the Catawba River.
Tension between stakeholders is inevitable and the dispute between North Carolina and South Carolina on equitable apportionment of the Catawba River even led to a Supreme Court case in 2010 (South Carolina v. North Carolina). The Catawba River flows from its headwaters in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina into Lake Wateree in South Carolina. The basin includes portion of 14 counties in North Carolina and 10 counties in South Carolina. However, under North Carolina’s Interbasin Transfer Statute, person or entity is allowed to transfer up to 2,000,000 gallons of water without permits. South Carolina was concerned that this practice would allow North Carolina to divert water from the Catawba River and severely impact South Carolina as the downstream state, especially in times of drought.
The final ruling of the court case actually gives the interstate water authority, Catawba River Water Supply Project, and Duke Energy the power to intervene since both groups have bi-state interest, not biased toward either state. This decision gave Duke Energy more power than ever before. Even though there seems to have a wide range of stakeholders, Duke Energy is undoubtedly the most powerful player in the Catawba River.