Clean Waters

MountainTrue supports the development and enforcement of standards and regulations to protect surface and ground water, and we work to preserve and restore waterways as healthy ecosystems as well as recreational and aesthetic resources.

MountainTrue works to restore and preserve our waterways as healthy ecosystems that are great places to swim, paddle and play. Our Riverkeepers are the primary guardians of their respective river basins; and our members and volunteer maintain the health of our waterways by monitoring pollution and cleaning up our rivers and streams.

Programs

MountainTrue is dedicated to protecting our waterways and our mountain communities through a variety of programs:

Help Keep Our Water Clean

We cannot monitor, clean and protect Western North Carolina waterways on our own. If you are interested in volunteering with our water programs, please click the button below or email Susan Bean at susan@mountaintrue.org.

Look Out for Sediment Pollution

Sediment pollution is the top reason for poor water quality in North Carolina. If you are interested in learning more and becoming involved in the Muddy Water Watch, click the button below.

French Broad River Paddle Trail℠

The French Broad River Paddle Trail℠ project was born out of the public’s desire to explore the entire French Broad River by boat. Now it is possible to do so, as the entire trail is composed of paddle-in-only campsites. The French Broad River Paddle Trail℠ is a recreational watercraft trail created and operated by MountainTrue and RiverLink. The paddle trail facilitates the public access to and camping on over 140 miles of the French Broad River, from the headwaters in Rosman, North Carolina to Douglas Lake in Tennessee.

Explore the French Broad

The French Broad River Paddle Trail is a great way to explore the river at your own pace. Check out the campsites and recreation spots along the trail and make your campsite reservation today!

Riverkeepers

The Broad Riverkeeper

The Broad Riverkeeper is the primary protector and spokesperson for the rivers and streams of the Broad River watershed in the Western and Piedmont regions of NC. MountainTrue’s Broad Riverkeeper, David Caldwell, works with communities and citizens to monitor water quality and advocate for best management practices. This Riverkeeper serves Rutherford, Polk and Cleveland counties

>Find out more!

French Broad Riverkeeper

The French Broad Riverkeeper serves as the primary protector and defender of the French Broad River watershed. The French Broad Riverkeeper works for healthy and safe waterways in the French Broad River watershed by partnering with citizens and communities. This Riverkeeper serves Transylvania, Henderson, Buncombe, Haywood and Madison county.

>Find out more!

The Green Riverkeeper

The Green Riverkeeper is the key protector and watchdog of the Green River Basin in Western North Carolina. MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan, who also serves as our Southern Regional Director, The Green Riverkeeper serves the Green River Basin beginning at the headwaters on the eastern slope of DuPont State Recreational Forest and draining southern and eastern Henderson County before flowing across Polk County and joining the Broad River on the border with Rutherford County.

>Find out more!

The Watauga Riverkeeper

The Watauga Riverkeeper is dedicated to protecting, preserving and restoring the Elk and Watauga Rivers. The riverkeeper advocates for cleaner, safer water in the High Country through community involvement and local and state governments so that both residents and visitors can enjoy the Watauga River Basin. This riverkeeper serves Watauga and Avery county.

>Find out more!

Clean Water and Riverkeeper News

Asphalt plant victory: You made this happen!

Asphalt plant victory: You made this happen!

Defeating this proposal meant showing up to community meetings, writing public comments and sitting through hours of County Commission hearings – all because you believed in the power of community organizing. Beyond that, this was the second time our community put in so much time and energy to challenge this proposal, and during a pandemic that was already so stressful for all of us. Thank you for being part of this win.

read more
Ward Mill Dam Removal Connects Aquatic Habitat, Makes River Healthier

Ward Mill Dam Removal Connects Aquatic Habitat, Makes River Healthier

In a huge win for local aquatic wildlife, the Ward Mill Dam just a few miles from Boone, North Carolina has finally been removed. The first dam was constructed at the location in 1890 and improved upon over the years. The mill complex served the community for generations providing electricity, jobs, firewood and building materials. The dam had been an obstacle for local aquatic wildlife for the past 130 years. Now, native fish such as the tangerine darter and threatened salamanders like the hellbender will be reunited and benefit from a reconnected and improved cold-water aquatic habitat.

read more
One Million Gallons of Sewage Overflowed into Western North Carolina Waterways during Six Month Period

One Million Gallons of Sewage Overflowed into Western North Carolina Waterways during Six Month Period

More than one million gallons of sewage overflowed from inadequate wastewater infrastructure into the French Broad River and other area waterways in Western North Carolina according to state data acquired and analyzed by MountainTrue. The data was collected from August 3, 2020 until March 4, 2021 by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Asheville Regional office and is the best available estimate of the amount of sewage that overflows from wastewater infrastructures such as pipes and manhole covers into area rivers and streams across 19 counties of western North Carolina.

read more


Through Muddy Water Watch, volunteers go out hiking, biking, and driving to collect data about sources of sediment pollution. The data is used to work with the US Forest Service to repair damaged roads, culverts, and other sources of sediment to ensure these streams remain healthy.
After nearly a decade of work by WNCA (now MountainTrue), 11th District Congressman Heath Schuler, and many others, the long-proposed North Shore Road along the shore of Fontana Lake was put to rest. The people of Swain County were financially compensated in lieu of the originally promised road, and pristine streams, sensitive aquatic life and public land were preserved.