The Watauga Riverkeeper is the key protector and watchdog of the Watauga River Basin in Western North Carolina. MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper endeavors to monitor and protect the quality of our region’s waterways through dedicated volunteers and engagement with Watauga and Avery county communities and local and state government. The riverkeeper wants all High Country residents and visitors to enjoy clean waterways free of sediment pollution and supporting a thriving mountain ecosystem.
Andy is MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper, protecting and advocating for the Watauga River Basin. Andy has a passion for clean, cold, fishable, drinkable, swimmable water. As a long time fly fisherman, educator and guide, Andy is intimately familiar with our watershed from headwaters to the tailwater and is passionate about protecting the places we love.
Watauga Riverkeeper Work
The Watauga Riverkeeper carries out the following programs and initiatives to protect the Watauga and Elk Rivers:
- VWIN Water Quality Monitoring Program where volunteers take 65 water samples monthly from 13 sites located throughout the Watauga River watershed to ensure that our waterways are clean and healthy.
- Recreation/Access: The Watauga Riverkeeper works with local individuals and groups to improve access to fishing and recreational opportunities on the Watauga River.
- Stormwater management will occur through the Muddy Water Watch program. Trainings will start this fall for Muddy Water Watch, a citizen-led initiative to reduce the amount of sediment polluting our waterways.
- SMIE Biomonitoring Program through which the Watauga Riverkeeper will be leading workshops and trainings so that citizen scientists can help determine the presence of certain aquatic insects, which are great indicators of river health.
- Patroling the watershed for polluting activities and serving as a resource and point of contact for the public on issues related to the Watauga River.
Watauga Riverkeeper News
MountainTrue has been evolving toward a wider focus. Yes to protecting forests and rivers and advocating for better public transit, more greenways, clean energy, and dense development for the environmental benefits, but we are also thinking more broadly about how we can help foster communities where people are truly healthy. And this means communities that are free from racism, and where there is equity in the social determinants of health — housing, transportation, education and jobs. Here are some of the reasons why.
While sampling at Moss Lake this summer, Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell noticed that the water was very green and cloudy. He conducted additional tests that showed high dissolved oxygen and pH readings, both of which are indicators of an algal bloom.
Millions of people across North Carolina take to our beaches, rivers and lakes to cool off, swim, paddle, and fish, but most are unaware that nearly 16 million gallons of untreated sewage spilled into our waterways during a two and a half month period this summer. North Carolina desperately needs to update its public spill notification system. Act now.
Call on Asheville City Council to do its part to clean up the French Broad River, starting with the establishment of a Stormwater Task Force to address the City’s water pollution problems. Not only does the City have a legal obligation to protect water quality, Council’s commitment to racial equity demands action to protect residents of the Southside neighborhood from the highest pollution levels in the city.
MountainTrue Pollution Tip Leads to Enforcement Action Against Tryon International Equestrian Center
On July 27, MountainTrue followed up on a public complaint of sediment flowing into White Oak Creek from the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TEIC). Video showed a significant discharge of muddy water flowing off the site into the creek. MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper reported the issue to the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources (DWR) and DWR sent an inspector to the equestrian center where they witnessed site contractors flushing sediment into the center’s stormwater drainage system, and failures in their stormwater management system.
Keep the Watauga and Elk Rivers Clean
You can help keep the Watauga River Basin healthy and clean by volunteering with one of our river cleanups or other events. If you are interested in volunteering, click the button below or email Andy Hill at email@example.com.