Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


Environmental Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dwayne E. Porter


Lake Wateree, which spans three counties in South Carolina, is the last in a series of eleven reservoirs within the Catawba/Wateree watershed. The lake is an important resource for recreation and municipal water use as well as hydroelectric power generation. In 2008, the Catawba-Wateree River, which feeds the lake, was designated America's Most Endangered River by American Rivers due in part to rapid population growth in the Charlotte, NC metropolitan area and outdated water management strategies.

This project is focused on the efforts of volunteers concerned with the health of Lake Wateree and the Catawba-Wateree River. It is aimed to ultimately contribute to the growing body of research focused on the ability of humans to monitor, assess, and protect the environments they inhabit, utilize and value.

The major research objectives were to engage in stream sampling to try and identify discrete sources of sediments entering into Big Wateree Creek, which feeds Lake Wateree, and to develop a website to serve as a broad communication and educational tool for the volunteer monitoring effort. A unifying concept for the entire project was community outreach and the incorporation of volunteer and stakeholder input.

With respect to the issue of turbidity in Big Wateree Creek, a number of stream sites were sampled over a six month period. Following analysis of the turbidity data collected, a specific area of concern was identified for volunteers and government agencies to follow up with and keep an eye on.

The website was designed using a freely available Google Site, and at the time of this writing, is still in its early stages of use. Feedback thus far has been positive and suggests the site is an effective way for communicating scientific concepts and monitoring results to stakeholders and the general public.

There are many possible avenues for future work: expanded research on the turbidity loading in Big Wateree Creek, addition of more website content, development of a new, independent website for enhanced communication and outreach, creation of new goals, methods, and protocols for the monitoring effort, etc.

Since volunteer based monitoring is recognized as a way for citizens to translate knowledge into action, make informed decisions, and provide information to influence future resource management strategies, the expectation is that this project will ultimately result in greater public support for monitoring and stewardship of Lake Wateree and the Catawba-Wateree River.


© 2010, Sara Powell