Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about the Haw Watershed

What can you tell me about algae in the Haw and Jordan Lake?

See Questions and Answers About Algae from algae expert Mark VanderBorgh.

What fish are safe to eat from the Haw River?

See Fish Consumption Advisory Info, which contains the N.C. Dept. of Public Health recommendations for eating freshwater fish.

Where can you canoe on the Haw?

See our Recreational Info page for paddling information and resources.

What are the biggest pollutions problems in the Haw River watershed?

See Issues and Impacts on the Haw River.

How do I report a problem on my creek or on the river?

See  Report A Pollution Problem.

What are some interesting things to know about the Haw River?

See Facts about the Haw River.

How can I find out some of the cultural and natural history on the Haw?

See Natural and Cultural History on the Haw.  If you would like to read more history of the Haw River we offer a terrific book, “Down Along the Haw”, written by Elon University professor Anne Cassebaum.  Contact us for information about ordering.

What are some fun  to do with my students or children?

See Classroom Activities related to the Haw River for ideas.

What do I do about beavers on my creek?

See Peaceful Coexistence With Beavers by Kim Willis.

How can I get more involved in the Haw River Assembly?

Join the Haw River Assembly.  *  Become a Haw River Watcher.  *  Help with the Haw River Learning Celebration, our riverside field trip for fourth-graders.  *  Volunteer for our annual mid-March river cleanup.  *  Come to events such as our annual Haw River Festival in May and our annual meeting in November–see our Calendar of Events for upcoming HRA activities.  *  Respond to our action alerts to speak out on behalf of the river.

What are some of HRA’s accomplishments in protecting and restoring the Haw?

Founded in 1982, we are in our 31st year of our work on behalf of the Haw watershed.  See a few highlights from our first 25 years of accomplishments.

Answers from Elaine Chiosso, Haw Riverkeeper:

How polluted is the Haw River compared to when it was most polluted?

Before the Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 pollution from textile mills along the river and poorly treated sewage created actual dead zones in the river.  There are still many pollution problems, but much improved since that time.  Non-point source pollution (polluted runoff during rains) is now the primary problem.

How have aquatic species been recovering from the Haw River’s pollution?

I do not have specific data.  Fishermen seem to find more fish than they used to – but mercury pollution from coal fired power plants is a big problem.  There is definitely increased forest and natural buffers along the river which has increased biodiversity – both on land and in the water.

Are there any problems with overfishing in the Haw RIver?

Not that I know of; most people do not eat the fish they catch. It is not known as a prime fishing river.

Has the Haw River ever been used as a major fishing river?

Not commercially , but nearby residents held large fish fry events in the old days from fish caught in the Haw.

Is there a chance of recovery for the native mussels?

Yes, if the water quality improves, the native mussels living in the healthiest tributaries could be re-introduced to the river. There is still at least one species of mussels in the river.

Are there any negative impacts of the asian mussels?

Not sure – they certainly have the positive impact of providing food for a large variety of animals.  If the mussels made a comeback in the Haw there might be competition.

Are there currently any point source pollutants that are causing a major impact on the Haw River’s health?

All of the waste water treatment plants create excess pollution near their discharge pipes and collectively have contributed to nutrient over-enrichment in the Haw.

How much hydroelectric power does the Haw River produce?

I don’t know. There are at least 4 hydro power operations in place near old textile mills on the river.  Saxapahaw’ runs pretty steadily, Bynum rarely – not sure about Glencoe and Altamahaw.  Jordan Lake dam was recently retrofitted for hydropower

Are any textile mills still in use along the Haw River?

I believe the Hopedale Mill in Burlington is the only one – others are demolished, sitting empty or have been put to new uses.

 Can you give some information about the Bynum dam?

The Bynum dam was first built as a 3.5 high, 500 ft long gristmill dam by the Bynum family in about 1800 to power the water wheel for a grist (grain grinding) mill, via a mill race.  The dam was rebuilt and raised several times 1860, 1902 and 1922 as the grist mill was replaced with a cotton spinning mill in the 1870’s, (which also was rebuilt a couple of time) and larger mill race, and finally used for hydro electric power for the mill. The hydro power turbines are still in place at the site of the now demolished mill ( on the state park land in Bynum) – and generates energy occasionally.