Conclusions, Areas of Concern, and Next Steps

Lake James is classified as an oligotrophic lake. This means it has low plant productivity and high transparency (it’s pretty clear).  Overall, the major tributaries in of Lake James are in good condition from a chemical assessment perspective. These factors combined with the surrounding mountains make Lake James a very attractive place to be. However, not all parts of the lake are the same. While the news is not bad from a chemical assessment perspective, there is concern about trends observed in the North Fork of the Catawba River and the increased impacts of industry and development on the western side of the lake. Orthophosphate, Conductivity, and Chlorophyll a levels that are higher than area norms (but within regulatory limits) stand out in this assessment. While better results are observed on the eastern side of the lake now, increasing development in the Linville River Watershed above the Linville Gorge has the potential to be an issue in the future. The Lake James Environmental Association will remain diligent in proactively monitoring and reacting to the conditions of the watershed. This is important not only for the immediate area but also for the two million plus people who depend on the water from the Catawba river beyond Lake James.