Little River Among America’s Most Endangered Rivers

New dam would cost taxpayers millions and devastate river health

June 2nd, 2010

<p>Lynnette Batt, American Rivers, (919) 682-3197<br />Alissa Bierma, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, (919) 856-1180</p>

Washington, DC — A new dam would waste millions of taxpayer dollars and devastate the Little River and its fish, wildlife, and recreation opportunities. This threat landed the Little River in the number four spot in America’s Most Endangered Rivers™: 2010 edition, produced by American Rivers.

“The key to a reliable and predictable water supply is a healthy river, not a dead river,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers. “We need 21st century solutions like water efficiency and green infrastructure to ensure a future of water security and river health for the Little River and its communities.”

American Rivers called on Wake County to expand water supply allocation within Falls Lake reservoir and implement a rigorous water efficiency program, instead of taking the outdated approach of building a costly new dam.  This approach will not only save taxpayer dollars but will ultimately provide more water supply for the area. In the report “Hidden Reservoir,” American Rivers documented how Raleigh could save over $60 million and nearly 40 percent of its water supply, by embracing water efficiency solutions like stopping leaks and upgrading old buildings.  This water savings could provide water for 80,000 to 120,000 new residents

“The community has worked hard to protect and restore the Little River through dam removal, historic preservation, and conservation planning; it would be a crime for us to sacrifice such a beautiful and unique resource without first doing everything in our power to find viable alternatives,” said Alissa Bierma, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed reservoir is currently under development and is expected to be out for a 30-day public comment period in September 2010.

The Little River is one of the healthiest in the Southeast region, and serves as a drinking water source for over 50,000 people in five municipalities (including Franklin, Zebulon, Wendell, Kenly, and Goldsboro.  The river also provides irrigation for a number of farms, and is used extensively for fishing and paddling. The Little River has benefitted from a number of restoration efforts that have improved habitat for fish and wildlife.  The removal of three dams has successfully restored 130 stream miles for six different kinds of fish.

The proposed impoundment would cover 1,150 acres and store more than 3.7 billion gallons of water. The dam would destroy all of the restoration work completed for migratory fish, and inundate hundreds of acres of wetlands that provide clean water and natural flood protection benefits. 

About America’s Most Endangered Rivers

Each year, American Rivers reviews nominations for the America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ report from river groups and concerned citizens across the country. Rivers are selected based upon the following criteria:

  • A major decision (that the public can help influence) in the coming year on the proposed action
  • The significance of the threat to human and natural communities
  • The degree to which the proposed action would exacerbate or alleviate stresses caused by climate change

The report is a call to action and emphasizes solutions for the rivers and their communities. By shining the spotlight on key decisions that will impact the rivers, and by providing clear actions the public can take on their behalf, the report is a powerful tool for saving these important rivers.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ is sponsored by Orvis, the oldest mail order company in the US, which has been outfitting customers for the sporting traditions since 1856. Orvis is a long-time supporter of American Rivers.  This is the second consecutive year that they have sponsored America’s Most Endangered Rivers and have also provided American Rivers with a 2010 Conservation Grant.  Orvis donates 5% of their pre-tax profits annually to protect nature.
American Rivers Senior Vice President for Conservation Andrew Fahlund and Director Lynnette Batt (Durham) are available for interviews, both pre and post embargo.  Please contact Amy Kober, 206-898-3864 for booking.

Reporters wishing to direct readers to the report online may use the following link:


About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at,, and