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Great Falls Catawba Releases Delayed Until Next Spring (SC)

Posted: 05/10/2022
By: Kevin Colburn

The start of flow releases on the Great Falls of the Catawba have unfortunately been delayed from this August to next spring. The pace and scale of work being done on the hydropower project and related lands to support releases is extraordinary, and while disappointed we are confident that the delay is merited. American Whitewater will continue to work with Duke Power and the community of Great Falls to be ready for releases next March. 


Duke Power has been working on several projects around the Great Falls of the Catawba to prepare the area for flows and recreational use. Most importantly, significant alterations to the two diversion dams were required in order to release water into the currently dewatered river channels. The dam on the river right “Short Channel” is in the process of being retrofitted with pneumatic gates that will provide fine-tuned water releases, and Duke is building a put-in trail that will extend all the way to the end of the channel. On the river left “Long Channel” Duke is building two concrete channels (pictured) that will allow water releases and paddlers to pass through notches in the diversion dam to enter the riverbed downstream. In addition, Duke Energy is building several new river access areas.  


American Whitewater has been working on restoring flows and public access to Great Falls of the Catawba for 20 years. The collaborative dam relicensing process culminated in a settlement agreement in 2006, but the license was not issued until 2015. Since then it has been a busy time of designing the enhancements, securing permits and approvals, and getting them built. American Whitewater has worked closely with Duke Power and others throughout this process, and we’ll help with the final preparations this winter. 


Starting in March releases will occur every week or two through October, at nearly 3000 cfs in each channel. See you then!

Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

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Associated Projects

Catawba Relicensing (SC)

The relicensing of a string of dams on the Catawba River could restore the Great Falls of the Catawba, and bring massive public benefits throughout the watershed.

Associated Rivers

Catawba SC
Catawba SC
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