The Haw River Paddler


“Rivers flow not past, but through us: tingling, exciting, vibrating every cell and fiber of our bodies making them sing and glide.”  John Muir

 What Are We Doing to Our Rivers: A Search for Profits or a Blind Path to Suicide?

 Since writing the last edition of “The Haw River Paddler” there has been a sewage spill in the Haw River from the City of Burlington’s wastewater treatment plant and an ash pond spill on the Dan River downriver from Danbury, NC.  In the case of the sewage treatment plant in Burlington, there should have been back-up equipment and pipe on site to make repairs immediately.  In the case of Duke Energy Progress, the ash pond along the Dan River, and all of their other ash ponds, should have been lined and away from rivers.  Simply, the City of Burlington and the State of North Carolina turned a blind eye on their mandates to protect their citizens and the environment.  They put off dealing with what was necessary in favor of avoiding the additional costs of doing things right and hoping that all would be well.

My father used to tell me, “Son, progress is a plot designed to demoralize the American public”.  He never mentioned who designed or executed the plot, but he no less could see what he thought were the negative consequences of the age in which we live.  To him, the search for profits at any cost was humanity’s blind path to suicide.

When contacted by the Raleigh News & Observer and asked about the sewage spill and whether or not I was concerned about public health, I told the reporter that I was far more concerned about the fire at the Sharon Harris Nuclear Power Plant that happened weeks before.  A release of radioactive gases is a bigger concern for public health, the environment in general and for a much longer period of time.  I asked the reporter why there was not more follow up to the fire than there had been about the sewage spill.  It must have been a slow news week when the sewage spill happened.  By the time the reporter contacted me about the sewage spill, the floating and suspended products of the spill were probably downriver near Fayetteville.

The Duke Progress Energy coal ash spill, on the other hand, stretches at least 70 miles downriver from the spill site and in some places covers the river bottom 5 inches thick with toxic chemicals.  Unlike the sewage spill that floated downriver, the toxic mix on the bottom of the Dan River will be there for a much longer time.

I am incredibly sad and frustrated about what we are doing to the earth, our home and life support system.  The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. was created 9 years ago to get people on the river, to get them connected to nature.  The belief is that once that connection is made, love for nature will follow.  When you love something or someone, you will do what it takes to care for it or them.  Without love and caring, it is a blind path to suicide.

Wellness of Chatham:  Presentation on the Health Benefits of Paddling

The next Wellness of Chatham talk, Reconnect With Nature & Have Fun Paddling with Joe Jacob of Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co., is this Thursday, March 6th from 8 – 9:30am at Blue Dot Coffee, 53 Hillsboro Street, Pittsboro. This earlier meeting time may allow some of you to join Wellness of Chatham for a great talk and some equally wonderful coffee and breakfast nibbles before having to be at work!

Created to introduce paddlers to one of the NC Piedmont’s most engaging rives, The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. features canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals, courses and guided tours down the Haw River. Come learn how paddling can allow you to marry time in the gorgeous outdoors with a great form of exercise, available to all ages and skill levels.

 River Clean-up Extended to March 16th.

 Because we have so much interest in the Haw River clean-up scheduled for Saturday, March 15th, we have closed reservations for that day and will focus clean-up efforts near Saxapahaw.  The following day, Sunday, we will go upriver to Spirit Island and focus clean-up efforts there.  To help, either gives us a call at 336/260-6465 or register online at our website.  Just go to and put your cursor over the word Reservations on the home page.  A drop down menu will appear.  Click on Registration Form, fill out the required fields and hit send.  We will follow up with an acknowledgement that we have received your reservation.  Thanks for volunteering.  It does make a difference and you will feel better for it.