From Water Wiki
The Yadkin Pee Dee River basin is North Carolina’s second largest, including 5,862 stream miles and 22,988 lake acres, and spanning 21 counties and 93 municipalities. The River Basin covers approximately 7,221 square miles of North Carolina.
The Yadkin River rises in the northwestern portion of the state near the Blue Ridge Parkway's Thunder Hill Overlook. The river becomes the Pee Dee River at the confluence of the Uwharrie River, and flows into South Carolina near Cheraw, which is at the fall line where it becomes the Great Pee Dee River. It is part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin.
Principal tributaries of the Yadkin include the Reddies, Roaring, Mitchell, Fisher, Ararat and South Yadkin Rivers.
The Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin contains 10 damming operations:
- High Rock Dam
- Tuckertown Dam
- Narrows (Badin) Dam
- Falls Dam
Pee Dee River
- Tillery Dam
- Blewett Falls Dam
South Yadkin River
- Cooleemee Dam
- Ledbetter Dam
- Eury Dam
- Little River Dam
Major water users
Approximately half of the watershed is forestland, most of it privately owned. Nearly one-third of the watershed is used for agriculture, including cropland (15.6 percent) and pastureland (14.1 percent). Just 13 percent of the land is developed, although this figure is rising rapidly.
The river is extensively used for recreation. Fishing consists mostly of sunfish, catfish, largemouth bass and white bass in the spring and early summer. Canoeing and rafting are also possible. A portion of the river flows through Pilot Mountain State Park. Morrow Mountain State Park and the Uwharrie National Forest are along the banks of the river where the river's name changes to the Pee Dee River.
Several parts of the river are impounded by dams for water, power, and flood control.
Water quality issues
Badin Lake, one of several major reservoirs located on the main stem of the Yadkin River, serves as the primary drinking water source for the City of Albemarle. Citizens throughout the entire region, as well as many others from North Carolina, utilize Badin Lake for fishing and swimming. Alcoa, one of the world’s leading producers of primary aluminum, conducted its aluminum smelting operations from approximately 1915 until mid-2007 at the Badin Works plant, located adjacent to Badin Lake.
Alcoa has discharged pollutants into the air, land and waterways during the operation of the Badin Works Plant. There are at least six known contamination sites located around the Alcoa plant. Alcoa has acknowledged that the operation of the Badin Works plant has also resulted in contamination of the public water supply. The known contaminants include cyanide, fluoride, PCBs, solvents, metals, hydrocarbons, benzene, naphthalene and methane.
In 2010, WUNC-TV (producer Eszter Vajda) produced a three part series on the legislative and public debate about the best role for the State versus Alcoa in future operations of the federally-licensed projects on the river.
Population and growth in basin
The current population within the basin is about 1.6 million, with an average population density of 222 persons per square mile.
Water supplies for many communities in North and South Carolina are taken from the Yadkin-Pee Dee and during drought years the division of the water is a contentious issue.
In addition, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue has stressed the importance of replacing the over 50 year old Interstate 85 bridge over the Yadkin River. Department of Transportation officials have put a Yadkin river bridge replacement — part of a 6.8-mile I-85 widening project between Rowan and Davidson counties — at about $300 million.
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