The Catawba River Basin is the eighth largest river system in the state of North Carolina and contains 3,042 miles of streams. The Basin is in the west central region of North Carolina encompassing 3,305 square miles or 8.1% of the state. There are 14 counties that are contained all or in part in the Catawba River Basin and the population in the area is over a million people.
The main channel of the Catawba River is restrained by seven different hydroelectric reservoirs. The headwaters of the Catawba River is in the mountains of western North Carolina. Water quality is generally good especially in the trout streams in the mountains. There are pollution concerns for about 16 percent of the streams and rivers from sediment, nutrients from farms, heavy metals and fecal coliform.
There are ongoing projects for proactive management of the water levels in the basin. Water management is essential due to changing climatic conditions across the area and is being carried out by state and federal water-resource agencies. The projects monitor ground water levels, river and stream flow to be prepared for changes in rain fall amounts. They also study the relationship between surface water and ground water in the area. Ground water provides the water for streams when the rainfall amounts are less due to seasonal changes or drought conditions.