Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group 2018/2019 Annual Report
Message from Our Chairman
Dear Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group Members,
2018 and 2019 have been exciting years for the Water Management Group. We continue to support and invest in great work that promotes our values, enhances our local, regional, and national partnerships and explores innovative solutions to our Basin’s most pressing water issues.
As organizations that withdraw water from the Catawba-Wateree River on behalf of our customers, we are not only uniquely positioned but have a great responsibility to protect and sustain our water supply. We use our resources to provide the best data possible for future planning and advance dialogue and collaboration.
Over the last year, we focused our efforts on three major projects:
- Phase 3 of our Water Supply Master Plan to identify and address current and future water quality issues and treatment options;
- Water Research Foundation Study to understand the connection between land conservation and water supply, and
- Water Loss Management Audit to reduce per capita water loss across the basin.
Each of these projects is part of our continuous effort to secure a sustainable water source for the millions of residents who call this region home. In addition to our technical work, we increased our efforts to educate and bring awareness for this essential water source. We are passionate about supporting a new generation of civic, utility and industry leaders through programs like our recently launched Citizens’ Water Academy. This academy brought together current and emerging leaders at the local and state level to educate them on the importance of cross-jurisdictional cooperation and characteristic of the Catawba-Wateree Basin.
We are committed to providing forums for dialogue and collaboration on our region’s most pressing water challenges through our annual Water for All Summit. The 2019 summit brought together national and local speakers to discuss water quality in the river and at the tap, integrated water resources planning and the role of advocacy groups. We are proud we provided a platform for constructive dialogue between groups that at times can be at odds on how to reach a solution, but inevitably have the same goals for our Basin.
The Catawba-Wateree is more than water and we would like to thank everyone that has and is working to safeguard the future of our shared water supply.
Jimmy Bagley, PE
State of the Basin
Our river basin is not particularly big, but it works very hard – perhaps gallon for gallon as hard as any in the country. The Catawba-Wateree River Basin ranks six out of 17 in terms of land area in North Carolina and is the smallest of the eight major river basins in South Carolina. The Basin plays a key role in not only providing water for power production but also for public water supply, industry, agriculture, recreation, waste assimilation, and a rich diversity of plants and wildlife. It is not only our water supply, but our region’s heart and soul.
11 interconnected reservoirs
225 miles of river
13 hydropower stations and many public utilities
18 public water suppliers
4,750 square miles of watershed area (from Wateree Dam upstream)
Nuclear, gas and coal-fired power stations
“The agriculture, industry, and natural resources that are crucial to the area I represent are dependent upon a watershed that flows across two states, and decisions made by leaders far from home impact the quality and availability of water for my constituents. The Catawba- Wateree Water Management Group plays a vital role in making sure that those decisions are informed and fair.”
Representative Randy Ligon SC House of Representatives
Slide to the right to see the future data »
That is an expected increase of approximately 117% by 2065!
How are we doing?
Projected vs Actual Net Withdrawal
We are trending right on target with the projections from our Water Supply Master Plan. Increased population growth and regional development will continue to be a key driver of increased water demand on already limited resources.
Recreation, Climate and Energy Demand
Residents want options in where they live and play. The 11-lake system currently sees about 16 million recreational visits per year. The economic value provided by the lakes exceeds $24 million per year and directly supports about 1,700 jobs. People learn to love the water when they can see it, touch it, and play in it. With these investments, as well as the investments of our recreation facility partners, many new individuals will have the chance to play on the river.
Precipitation patterns are becoming increasingly more variable – this means more intense droughts and more frequent flood events.
- The future is expected to gradually get warmer at a rate of about 0.6⁰F/ decade.
- Doesn’t sound like much but with nearly 80,000 acres of lakes, those hotter temperatures are expected to increase lake evaporation by about 11 percent by 2065.
- Currently, average annual lake evaporation equals the net water demand for all human uses combined.
The 253 billion gallons of usable storage in our 11-lake system is our regional savings account, helping us make it through more frequent droughts.
The Catawba-Wateree is powering our region. The Basin is home to about 25 percent of Duke Energy’s total generating capacity in the Carolinas. In 2018, Duke Energy’s 13 hydro stations, two nuclear stations, two coal-fired stations and one combustion turbine station produced enough electricity to power over four million homes.
“Although smaller than most, the Catawba-Wateree River Basin is the very life blood of the region, both from an environmental and economic standpoint. Nearly every aspect of our lives is directly tied to the health and vitality of the C-W, including safe drinking water, renewable resources (clean air, food, industry), and an aesthetic beauty for recreational uses which help drive the quality of life in the region.”
Brett Hartis PHD Duke Energy
Since its inception, the CWWMG has invested nearly $6 million in support of its mission.
To identify, fund, and manage projects that will help preserve, extend, and enhance the capabilities of the Catawba-Wateree River to provide water resources for human needs while maintaining the ecological integrity of the waterway.
Member Dues: $550,000
Costs & Expenses
Five-Year Self Assessment: $19,760
Water Loss Management Project (Phases 2-4): $8,430
Water Loss Management Project (Phases 5a): $234,023
Strategic Communications Project $127,035
Water Supply Master Plan Phase 3 $161,000
USGS Groundwater Well O&M $141,000
Centralina Council of Government sponsorship: $600
Consultant Support Services: $9,650
CWWMG Administration: $92,264
Legal & Other Professional Services: $4,447
A New Toolkit for Strategic Land Conservation
As the Catawba-Wateree River Basin continues to attract people and industry, the accompanying growth will require development of large areas of natural land. These changes create challenges for water managers and the communities they serve.
Natural surfaces play a large role in dampening the impacts of flooding and protecting the soil from erosion. As natural surfaces give way to concrete and asphalt, rainwater rushes downstream and off of the land instead of sinking into the ground and seeping into waterways over time. A buffer against flooding is lost. When natural vegetation is disturbed, lost sediment can cloud nearby streams and reservoirs and make recreation less pleasant and drinking water more expensive to treat.
CWWMG commissioned a study, completed in 2018, in conjunction with the Water Research Foundation® to give jurisdictions and conservation organizations a tool for addressing expensive challenges like these. The study began by modeling current conditions in the river basin. How does water flow through the landscape? How will development of natural lands impact the quantity of water available in the basin? What are the resulting impacts of sediment and nutrient runoff coming from development? After modeling the same factors for projected land use patterns in 2050, the researchers identified “hot spots” for conservation – locations where development would have the greatest impact on sedimentation and runoff patterns for water users downstream.
The study took the analysis a step further by examining the costs and benefits associated with targeted land conservation. In one particularly striking case near Lake Norman, conserving 62 acres of land at a cost of $315,000 today could avoid over $2.4 million in damage from sediment runoff by 2050.
On a larger scale, the study identified five reservoirs – Lake Wylie, Lake Norman, Fishing Creek Reservoir, Mountain Island Lake, and Lake Hickory – that face high-risks but also offer highly promising options for mitigation through targeted land conservation.
With the help of the study’s recommendations, the CWWMG hopes planners, local conservation groups, and policy makers will be able to focus their conservation efforts and funding on the most critical areas in the watershed.
“This research has resulted in a new powerful tool that can be made available to city and county planning organizations, water utilities, and other groups interested in conservation of natural lands to understand the potential impacts a change in land use will have,” said CWWMG NC At-Large Director and Charlotte Water Deputy Director Ron Hargrove. “It provides more data to the decision makers and sets them up for better informed choices in development requests.”
The study is available on www.CatawbaWatereeWMG.org and training to use the tool will be made available to anyone interested in strategic land conservation.
Water Supply Master Plan
In 2018, CWWMG completed Phase 3 of our Water Supply Master Plan to identify and address current and future water quality issues and treatment options to help members continue to deliver safe water to their customers. As a result, CWWMG is working to establish a long-term water quality data platform to support future planning, regulation, and policy decision making in the region.
- Develop Water Supply Master Plan Phase 4 focused on economic issues.
- Updated water quantity phases in the next five years.
Water Loss Management Audit
Small leaks in our water system or meter inaccuracies may not seem important individually, but when multiplied across 18 systems and approximately 550,000 service connections, small leaks quickly add up. To achieve long-term, regional water use efficiency improvements, CWWMG developed a Basin-wide Water Loss Program. We are the only river basin in the country whose utilities are undertaking a collaborative water audit process that identifies real (leaks) and apparent (meter inaccuracy) water losses and proposes utility-specific recommendations. Detailed water loss profiles and statistical analysis have been developed for each CWWMG water utility member. The total water savings identified is 17 billion gallons of non-revenue water a year with a long-term cost benefit for water utilities of $16.8 million in revenue..
- Conduct economic analysis and identify target goals for each water utility member and the group as a whole.
“The Catawba-Wateree lake system is a gift to this region provided by a generation of visionary people who came before us. While the 11 lakes were built by Duke Energy’s predecessors to generate electricity, their use has expanded to also serve many additional regional needs. We all love this lake system and the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group is the innovative organization cutting across business sectors to ensure the shared water supply remains reliable for generations to come. Duke Energy is very proud to be a member of the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group.”
Jeff Lineberger Vice-Chair
Education and Awareness
Citizens’ Water Academy
In early 2019, CWWMG launched the inaugural Citizens’ Water Academy to support the growth of a new generation of civic, utility and industry leaders interested in water resources, the environment and in brainstorming innovative solutions for our region’s water challenges.
Over three days, program participants learned about the Catawba-Wateree River Basin’s history, geography, management and challenges facing the river’s future.
Session topics include:
- The morphology and anatomy of the Catawba-Wateree River.
- Groups managing and drawing from the river.
- Future challenges to water quantity and quality.
Water for All Summit
Each year, we aim to bring together industry leaders across sectors to tackle real issues impacting our water. We held our second Water for All Summit on February 12, 2019, in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The 2019 theme, “What’s in Our Water? Integrated Water Resource Management”, focused on issues related to water quality, water governance and collaborative approaches to water resource management for a sustainable and secure water future.
Over 140 guests representing 50+ organizations attended the Summit, with participation from utilities, government, engineering consultancies, non-profit organizations, academia, agriculture and many other sectors.
- Is My Water Safe to Drink? PFAS, Emerging Contaminants, and Related Issues.
- Integrated Water Resources Management for an Abundant, Safe and Sustainable Water Future.
- Managing Water for the Environment – NGO Advocacy, Environmental Justice, and our Communities.