Duke Energy announces inaugural Water Resources Fund grants to benefit regional waterways

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Fifteen organizations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are the first to receive $1 million in grants from the Water Resources Fund to improve local water quality.

The fund is a $10 million, multi-year commitment from Duke Energy to help local nonprofits continue to protect and improve the environment, including the waterways our communities appreciate and use year round across the Carolinas and neighboring states.

"Safeguarding clean water and connecting people with nature are cornerstones of our mission," said Katherine Baer, director of conservation for Triangle Land Conservancy. "Thanks to the generous support of the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund, we will further protect the Stony Creek watershed and prepare Brumley Forest Nature Preserve for its opening to the public in 2016."

Water Resources Fund grant recipients and projects

  • Anderson County (S.C.) Timmerman Access Project — $99,509 to provide a handicapped-accessible kayak launch and shoreline access route at the Timmerman Access along the Saluda River Blue Trail.
  • City of Danville Parks and Recreation (Va.) Riverwalk-Sandy River Project — $100,000 to create a riverwalk that includes a paved trail, a bridge and a boardwalk and will serve as an extension of Danville’s greenway with westward access along the Dan River.
  • City of Spartanburg (S.C.) Butterfly Foundation Trail Project — $100,000 to return the Greenville Branch Creek to its natural setting and to provide greater awareness of plant and wildlife natural to the habitat.
  • Cleveland Soil and Water Conservation District (N.C.) Sandy Run Farm Stewardship Project — $65,400 to fence cattle out of 10,000 linear feet of streams and creeks.
  • Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Inc., South Mountains Headwaters: Catawba Basin Watershed Protection Project — $100,000 to protect more than 2,000 acres of water supply watershed lands adjoining the South Mountains State Park at the confluence of the Henry Fork and Jacob Fork rivers.
  • Macon County Soil & Water Conservation District (N.C.) Cartoogechaye Creek Canoe Launch and Stream Access Project — $29,257 to install two canoe launches and a public stream access on Macon County’s recently developed Parker Meadows Recreation Facility.
  • Mountain Valleys Resource Conservation & Development (N.C.) Catawba Streambank Stabilization and Trail at Old Fort Park Project — $36,500 to support a stream restoration project, which will stabilize eroding stream banks and offer a handicapped-accessible angler trail along a hatchery-supported trout stream.
  • Nash Community College (NCC) Water Quality Institute (N.C.) NCC Water Quality Institute Project — $99,850 to improve water quality and conservation in the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins through research, public outreach, K-14 education and workforce development.
  • Sturgeon City of Jacksonville (N.C.) Sturgeon City Waterway and Wetland Education Program — $35,000 to expand an effective, land-based education program for youth and adults to nearby waterways, with educational waterway kiosks and other hands-on educational methods along the way.
  • The Conservation Fund (Va.) Preserving Headwaters State Forest Project — $100,000 to protect critical acreage that contains headwaters of the French Broad River in the Headwaters State Forest.
  • Triangle J Council of Governments (N.C.) Triangle Regional Drought Communications for Reliable Water Supplies Project — $76,700 to improve drought response in the Triangle Region through a regional water shortage communication framework and online water supply portal.
  • Triangle Land Conservancy (N.C.) Brumley Forest Riparian Restoration Project — $58,975 to improve water quality, aquatic education and public access to the Brumley Nature Preserve by reforesting stream buffers, building and improving trails and more.
  • Valle Crucis Community Park (N.C.) Dutch Creek Stream Restoration and Education Initiative Project — $77,150 to restore a degraded reach of Dutch Creek through natural channel design methods and to educate the local community about stream ecology.
  • Wake County (N.C.) Robertson’s Mill Pond Preserve Project — $100,000 to support the opening of the first Wake County-maintained nature preserve at Robertson’s Mill Pond, the county’s only blackwater swamp and bald cypress habitat.
  • Winyah Rivers Foundation (S.C.) Coastal SC Wetlands Partnership Project — $100,000 to protect coastal wetland habitats, associated uplands and water quality along the Black River.

"The Water Resources Fund is an investment in healthier waterways and a better quality of life for communities," said Stick Williams, president of the Duke Energy Foundation. "Our hope is that these programs will help preserve the beauty of our region’s waterways for years to come."

Investment decisions were carefully reviewed by the Water Resources Fund committee, an independent body that includes five environmental experts and two Duke Energy employees. Selected projects are chosen on several criteria, including whether the project is science-based and research-supported. The application process is managed by the North Carolina Community Foundation.

"The Butterfly Creek Park Project will provide a fun learning experience about our water resources while simultaneously encouraging physical activity," said Ed Memmott, Spartanburg city manager. "The funding from the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund helps us transform what was a hidden and forgotten urban creek into a tremendous asset and continues the very positive momentum in Spartanburg. We are very grateful to receive this grant." Duke Energy anticipates two grant announcements per year for the duration of the commitment. Applications for the next Water Resources Fund grant cycle are due May 15, 2015. An information session will also be available to interested organizations April 1. Please visit www.nccommunityfoundation.org for more information on how to apply and register for the session.

About the Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation actively works to improve the quality of life in its communities, lending expertise in the form of leadership and philanthropic support to charitable organizations. Duke Energy has long been committed to building and supporting the communities in which its customers and employees live and work.

About Duke Energy

Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with approximately $121 billion in total assets. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.3 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Its commercial power and international energy business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at: duke-energy.com