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Hi Justin Collins here,
As far as water quality, I dont know. I paddle the S. Fork weekly. During the drought it ran clear. A fish company in Lincolnton round 1900's used to catch trout in town along with other fish and sale to the local community so they say. Also used to be able to paddle up Walker Branch off Clarks Creek as near back as1950's.
When it rains it appears to be erosion pollution and trash. I believe the sod farms take more water than the dairy farms they replaced. they produce high levels of chemicals from over fertilizing and constant watering from Clarks Creek and S. Fork River lower the river levels. NO more erosion from cows or cow poop in the river. Thanks EPA.
The sewer smells worse when the flows are lower, i am not sure how flow and discharge are checked for proper discharge ratio. Smell may come from holding ponds and not being able to discharge.
The "Rainbow River" is gone, long before the cotton mills or dye houses. Memory just tells great stories of the imagination to remember. I havent seen colors in the river in more than 10 years. I agree the residues and deposits may remain. If you are concerned please find out and let the rest of us know. I swim in sections and most of the old mill dams are swarmed by local people daily and have for years attracted all folks on a warm day. when i am paddling it is rare not to see someone on acanoe, raft, paddle boat, john boat, or sitting on the bank. Like i said im a boater not a sewage expert or water quality scientist.
To the rest of those seeking a great paddle I suggest any section of the S. Fork. Including the Henry Fork and Jacobs Fork. If you are looking for a family float or fishing trip then I suggest from Lincolnton downstream. There are 7 dams to portage. Some being more (adventure) difficult. I believe the Spencer Mtn to McAdenville section is great for quick paddles , introductory boating and incredible scenery outings. All within 25 mins of downtown Charlotte. And no charge for parking! If you dont have equipment and gear check out ncflatwateroutfitters.com and if you want a guide and/or equipment check out http://www.countrymanlivery.com
I live 5 minutes from here. This dam is rarely as seen in the photos. Only after serious rainfall. It would be awesome to see someone go over it. But, it's the only rapid around. The South Fork River flows down on all flatwater from this small McAdenville dam to the next one that drops into Lake Wylie. I have paddled this stretch a few times. It's about 20% in town and the rest has some nice scenery and bird watching. There is a new park with a canoe/kayak launch on this stretch in Cramerton on Riverside Dr. if anyone is looking for flatwater boating.
The water quality isn't as bad as it used to be as most of the mills have shut down. It's still murky foothills river though. There are several other pretty cool spots on this reach and a couple of new public access points will be open soon. Look for updates and new photos soon.
I went to look at the rocks today while the river was low, and found out that the trail to the rapid is private property and is now posted with big no trespassing signs and "police have authority to arrest signs".
Water quality is terrible... New
Re: Any NC foothills or piedmont paddlers ever ran either of these rapids in gaston county? by ncriverboarder Sep 01 2003, 2:02 GMT New
Date: Sep 01 2003, 12:15 GMT
I haven't personally played at these spots, but I know of people that have - and they all wondered what chemicals were in the water. Numerous textile/industrial complexes upstream of that area.
Buddy of mine that worked for Meck. Parks/Rec called up NC Water Advisory, etc and asked what test results they had for the water quality and was it safe to kayak in? According to the state, it is classified as "water suitable for drinking" (just not immediately suitable I presume), whatever that means. I mean, they dumped how many million gallons of sewage into Lake Norman the other year and it is classified as safe with respect to recreation/water supply?
Guy kept giving him ambiguous answers about the being in contact with said "drinking" water, then finally the guy told him that he wouldn't be coming into contact with it at all.
Take a look at the rocks out there in the river bed sometime, I'm not sure what chemicals are there, but I know that textile dyes are a regular occurence in the area. Supposedly the locals nicknamed the area the "rainbow river" for all the varied textile dyes that float down at different times.
There is a lowhead dam just visible when you cross on I-85, water feature of some sort is present below that, sounds like you have already found the trail to get to the river from below.
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