Top 40 Issue 12: Cheoah River, North Carolina

Posted: 09/07/2000
By: Nick Lipkowski
ISSUE: Hydropower Relicensing
GOAL: Restore Cheoah River and whitewater opportunities

Current Issue: Tapoco, Inc., a subsidiary of Reynolds Aluminum, is currently relicensing a series of hydropower dams on the Little Tennessee River and Cheoah River. Santeetlah Reservoir on the Cheoah River pipes water around the 8.5 mile Class IV run to a powerhouse on the Little Tennessee. As a result, the Cheoah is rarely paddled. In July 2000, American Whitewater volunteers participated in a recreational flow study designed to identify optimum and minimum acceptable flows for whitewater. Responses from the whitewater participants will be used to develop an annual schedule of whitewater releases. The study also examined angling opportunities at various flows and monitored potential biological effects of the releases on the aquatic biota. The results of these studies will be incorporated into the new 30 year license. American Whitewater will be actively engaged in the development of an annual schedule of whitewater releases.

Precedent: This relicensing is the first in a series of relicensings in the southeast. Familiarizing ourselves with the relicensing process, identifying the key agency personnel and advocating appropriate study protocols to identify river restoration needs will greatly enhance outcomes on the Cheoah River and other rivers due for hydropower relicensing.

Associated Projects

Cheoah River (NC)

AW and regional paddling clubs spent 5 years relicensing the dam on the Cheoah and scored a huge environmental and recreational victory.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!