Recreation, access improvements planned along Catawba-Wateree

Of all the new amenities and expanded access planned for the Catawba River and its lakes, trails and parks, an additional restroom is among the conveniences people are most excited about.
“It’s not glamorous, but our plans for new restrooms at the Buster Boyd access area have been very well-received,” said John Crutchfield, Duke Energy’s director of public safety and recreation strategy planning. “The Buster Boyd access area is always very busy. We’ve gotten more comments on the need for a restroom than just about anything else. A lot of people use this access area, including many organized fishing tournaments.”
North Carolina is at one end of the 1,500-foot-long, four-lane Buster Boyd Bridge, and South Carolina is at the other end, south of Charlotte. The bridge has been part of the landscape since the early 1920s when the original was built. (It was replaced in 1961 and again in 1999.)
This access area isn’t the only one getting an upgrade. Duke Energy will install restrooms at 27 recreation areas spanning all lakes along the Catawba-Wateree River over the next 20 years.
The recreation management plan – part of Duke Energy’s Catawba-Wateree license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – is extensive. Duke Energy submitted 197 pages of text and 93 drawings to FERC, making it the largest recreation plan filed by Duke Energy for its Carolinas hydro projects.
The plan includes new picnic facilities, fishing piers, swim beaches, campgrounds, expanded parking – and, yes, restrooms – at access areas, and it includes additional boating access areas.
The Catawba-Wateree Hydro Project encompasses nearly 1,800 miles of shoreline along 11 reservoirs in five S.C. counties and nine in North Carolina.
Lake Wateree and Fishing Creek Reservoir are on Lancaster County’s western border.
The license includes provisions that protect water quality and the environment. And it includes plans for new and enhanced recreational options for the people who rely on the Catawba-Wateree River and its lakes for summer fun including swimming, paddling and fishing.
Duke Energy is awaiting FERC’s response, expected sometime this year, before beginning any construction.
The recreation commitments in the plan include 89 proposed public projects and enhancements at 32 existing recreation areas; 26 new lake access areas will be built at a number of lakes – including James, Norman and Wateree – over the course of the 20-year project.

By Page Leggett, from Duke Energy Illumination, printed in The Lancaster News