About WATR


The Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River (WATR) is a citizen-based group dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the health and quality of the Tuckasegee River and its watershed.

Although we certainly assist local, state, and federal regulators in their duties to protect water quality in the Tuckasegee River and its tributaries, government alone won’t and can’t protect this natural resource. Consequently, our members strive to be vigilant in identifying pollution and other threats to the river.

Experience tells us that our environment either improves or deteriorates; it is foolish to believe that our watershed can be just “left alone” in the face of the continual development. It is foolish to think that it will just remain unchanged.

Our members have organized and mobilized to:

  • Collect samples for water quality analysis, as part of a regional volunteer monitoring program.
  • Detect biological waste discharges(In one well-publicized incident, we identified a source of bacterial contamination leading to the replacement of a failed sewer pipe in Sylva.) .
  • Hold river events, such as hikes and canoe trips to know the watershed better.
  • Energetically assist other groups in river clean-ups and environmental stewardship activities.
  • Develop citizen education materials addressing erosion and sedimentation.
  • Speak to student and citizen groups about the importance of our local water resources, threats to those resources, and what each of us can do to keep our river and creeks clean.
  • Be informed about water-related issues: such as threatened and endangered species in our streams, particularly the elktoe mussel, and regulations and enforcement designed to keep soil on the land where it belongs, and not in our streambeds.
  • Promote businesses that strive to be good stewards of our resources
  • Enhance our own organization by communicating with one another, seeking new members, and supporting the cause of clean water in the Tuckasegee River watershed with our labor and resources.
  • Build bridges between our members and the Cherokee population who live primarily on the Oconoluftee River, the largest tributary to the Tuckasegee.
  • Enjoy the fellowship of like-minded citizens, dedicated to environmental stewardship.

WATR is a not-for-profit corporation, established in 2002, and qualifies as a tax-exempt organization eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions pursuant to Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).

We have a staff of 2 part-time paid leaders. Our executive director is a Ph.D. hydrologist with 18 years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he focused on the discharge of radioactive sediments to the Tennessee River system.

Our office is in Bryson City, North Carolina.