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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Learn—Do—Enjoy the Water

Nov 01, 2018 07:31PM

by Emilee Syrewicze

We have been successful with water—capturing it, treating it and distributing it. We are so successful, in fact, that we’ve become water illiterate. We don’t really think about water until something happens such as pollution or scarcity to threaten our access to it. The nonprofit Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation (CRF) works to educate, advocate and protect the Catawba-Wateree River basin, one of the most endangered rivers in the country. They have boiled down their mission into three words: Learn. Do. Enjoy.

Knowing that a problem exists is half the battle, so learn about threats to our water by participating in one of the many CRF educational opportunities. CRF hosts cleanups of all sizes and locations year-round and cleaned up nearly 74,000 pounds of trash from the river last year. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up to participate in a cleanup and dosomething to help improve our local waterways.

At the 16th annual Lake Wylie Riversweep, more than 600 local volunteers recovered 16,230 pounds of trash in 526 bags from the waters of Lake Wylie on October 6. On November 13, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is participating in Meet Your Environmental Leaders, a presentation and Q&A hosted by the Charlotte Chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, where we will be joined by executive directors of Clean Air Carolina, Catawba Lands Conservancy and Sustain Charlotte, to discuss how our organizations protect our natural resources and promote a clean environment.

When we see huge threats to our local water quality like coal ash, land development or industrial farming, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or think that there is no way to change what’s happening, but that’s not the case. Every day, awesome volunteers and community members are working to improve our local water quality.

In order to appreciate what’s worth protecting, it’s helpful to get outside and enjoy the river. CRF also offers many recreational opportunities throughout the year aimed at getting folks out on the water. Spider Lily and Fall Leaf ECO tours are available, as well as Thursday evening paddles that take place all summer to see what is worth protecting and enjoy a day on the river.


Emilee Syrewicze, J.D., is the executive director of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. For more information, visit For more information on the November 13 “Meet Your Environmental Leaders” event, visit

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