Haw River Reconnection

Haw River, NC

Haw River, NC | © American Rivers

The Haw River in central NC has a number of problems facing it which led to us listing it as one of the nation’s Most Endangered Rivers® this year. Millions of gallons of raw sewage from spills and millions of gallons of polluted runoff (i.e., rainwater that picks up pollution as it flows over roads and parking lots) have washed into the Haw. These are the current threats facing the river that we must address immediately by reinstating the clean-up plan for the watershed.

The river also must contend with legacy threats from a bygone era of manufacturing textiles. Over the 110 mile length of the river there are numerous forgotten relic dams that are serving no purpose other than stopping the natural connections up and down the river. There is a major fish passage effort near the mouth of this river basin on the Cape Fear River [PDF] where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has constructed a major rock ramp to assist fish in getting beyond the first blockage in the basin. This effort has begun to focus attention on reconnecting fish habitat all along the basin including into the Haw River.

Last fall, American Rivers led the effort to begin opening up the Haw River by removing the Upper Swepsonville dam. This was a remnant dam that posed a hazard to both boaters and fish migrating through the river. We partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to make that project a reality and begin the process of reconnecting the river.

Now we are working with the Haw River Trail and Alamance County to remove two other remnant dams upstream – the Granite Mill dam and the Indian Valley dam. These three projects together will connect more than 15 miles of main stem of the Haw and begin to address the legacy threats on the river to fish and people.

Next Steps

Polluted runoff threatens the public health on the Haw River. Tell your Representative and Senator in the North Carolina General Assembly to stop the delays and reinstate the plan to clean up the Haw. Take action »

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