Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Awards $35,000 Grant to the Catawba-Wateree Clean Water Initiative

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina received a $35,000 grant from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to fund the continuation of the Catawba-Wateree Clean Water Initiative.

The Catawba-Wateree Clean Water Initiative was formed in 2013 by Foothills Conservancy, Catawba Lands Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund to identify and protect watershed lands and forests throughout the Catawba-Wateree River Basin in conjunction with major water stakeholders such as municipal water utilities and Duke Energy.

The Catawba-Wateree River is a hard working river that provides drinking water for over two million people, powers 13 hydroelectric facilities and cooling steam and nuclear power plants. It also provides habitat and supports ecological diversity and recreation and tourism opportunities.

RTI International, a Raleigh-based research company, is currently modeling the impacts of land use on water supply for the initiative and the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group. The initiative will link the results of this study to an action plan in an effort to conserve high-priority lands for source water protection.

“The grant from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation allows us to build consensus for an action plan to establish long-term protection for the forests and lands that impact the health of our rivers and streams,” said Vicki Taylor, environmental advisor to the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group and program manager for the Catawba-Wateree Clean Water Initiative. “We will be able to work with water utilities, landowners, federal, state and local governments, and conservation groups to identify and prioritize conservation measures to sustain the raw water supply for over two million people across two states.”

The $35,000 grant from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation will match a Healthy Watersheds Consortium Program grant to Foothills Conservancy to sustain and advance the initiative.

“Funding from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation five years ago was the spark that enabled the Catawba-Wateree Initiative to form at the very beginning of this effort,” said Foothills Conservancy Executive Director Andrew Kota. “The foundation’s support this year will enable us to continue to work with multiple partners and stakeholders to advance our source water protection goals for the Catawba-Wateree Basin.”