Catawba-Wateree River Basin, South Carolina & North Carolina
Comprising 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) of waterways, the Catawba-Wateree River System originates on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge mountains and then winds through the rapidly urbanizing North Carolina Piedmont before entering the lush lowlands of South Carolina. Along its 300-mile (483-km) route, it provides clean water and recreation for hundreds of thousands of people. Pollution from coal ash, which is waste from coal-fired power plants, is a threat to the basin, according to the SELC.
Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
Chilhowee Mountain, Tennessee
Pressure to complete an old highway plan could push new asphalt across the shoulder of the mountain and through Cherokee National Forest, the SELC said.
Dawson Forest, Georgia
An hour's drive north of Atlanta, Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area is a 10,000-acre wooded refuge for hunters, anglers, paddlers and bikers who enjoy miles of scenic backcountry trails crisscrossed by the Etowah River. Shoal Creek, a major tributary feeding the Etowah, is home to federally protected fish species found nowhere else in the world.
According to the SELC, a $650 million proposed reservoir on Shoal Creek would be filled with 100 million gallons of water per day pumped from the Etowah River. This could harm the aquatic life in the river, the center said.
North Carolina Piedmont
Savannah Harbor, South Carolina & Georgia
The Army Corps of Engineers plan to deepen 38 miles (61 km) of the Savannah River shipping channel. Over the years, dredging of the Savannah River has allowed saltwater from the Atlantic to chip away at the refuge's freshwater marshes, the SELC said, and even more will be lost if the channel is further deepened.