Our mission is to maintain and improve surface water quality in the Pigeon River Watershed of Haywood County, North Carolina. We accomplish this through two objectives directed at reducing nonpoint source pollution:
- Educating and focusing attention on the watershed as a natural, economic and recreational resource to be conserved and enhanced for this and future generations; and
- Working with public agencies, conservation interests, businesses, community groups, and public and private land owners to implement water quality improvement strategies.
We recognize the importance of partnerships between science, economy, government and the community to protect and improve water quality. We are not a regulatory agency. Our focus is on wise use of our natural resources by serving as a non-governmental catalyst for beneficial change.
The U.S. EPA’s non-point source capacity building workgroup would like to recognize your group as an outstanding example of how to set up and operate an effective watershed management group. EPA would like to use your success as a watershed organization to assist others…It is exciting to think that the work you have completed will assist other groups as they strive to achieve similar goals in watersheds across the United States.
– U.S. EPA, 2003
We are guided by a governing Board of Directors (page link), highly qualified staff (page link), a Strategic Plan, and the Pigeon River Watershed Action Plan (pdf). The Plan focuses on Board development, fundraising, public relations and succession and is designed to guide short-term operations as well as long-range planning necessary to maintain a strong organization.
Partnerships are critical for our success. Each partnership brings a certain set of skills necessary to improve water quality. Some of our key partners are the Southwestern RC&D Council, Haywood Soil & Water Conservation District, Haywood County Schools, and the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Many partners serve on our Technical Advisory Committee, which is a professional coordinating committee consisting of individuals with hundreds of years of professional conservation expertise in a wide variety of fields and disciplines. The members represent public agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit and for-profit corporations, and individual citizens.
Haywood Waterways became a non-profit, member corporation on September 23, 1998, and received IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status on January 29, 1999.
Awards & Recognition
- 1999 – North Carolina Water Conservationist of the Year – Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards program
- 1999 – Partner of the Year – Tennessee Valley Authority
- 1999 – Invited to SAMAB (Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere) conference themed “Community Solutions”; one of the three non-profit organizations cited as examples of a community solution.
- 2003 – Building Capacity for Nonpoint Source Management, EPA document citing HWA as a model watershed organization and our Watershed Action Plan as a “model plan” for other organizations nationwide.
- 2005 – Natural Resource Enhancement Award – Hugh Hammond Bennett Chapter of the Soil & Water Conservation Society
- 2008 – 1st Place – Community Pride Awards – Haywood County Commission for a Clean County
- 2009 – 1st Place – Community Pride Awards – Haywood County Commission for a Clean County (Adopt-A-Stream program)
2012 – Agricultural and Wastewater Treatment Best Management Practices Improve Water Quality in Richland Creek – USEPA document part of their Section 319 Nonpoint Source Program Success Story series
- 2013 – Received Guidestar Exchange’s Gold Seal for nonprofit transparency
- 2013 – Eric Romaniszyn and Christine O’Brien formally recognized by Haywood County School Board for contributions to Environmental Science Education of students of Haywood County
2016 – Education/Outreach Award – Tennessee River Basin Biodiversity Network, Tennessee River Celebration Awards
2016 – Community Pride Awards – Haywood County Commission for a Clean County
HWA also has some of the most dedicated and sincere people you could find involved in the projects and there is never any question about their motives or whether they have a hidden agenda. With the people leading this group, there is public support and belief that they are doing what is in the best environmental interests for the community.
Haywood Waterways is focused on the waterways of Haywood County, NC. However, we frequently assist with regional, state and even national efforts. We are currently partners in several efforts:
- Haywood Environmental Initiative
- Haywood Greenways Advisory Council
- Mountain Resources Commission Technical Advisory Committee
- Pigeon River Recovery Project
- WNC Stormwater Partnership
- Regional Erosion & Sediment Control Initiative
- NCSU Water Resources Research Institute Advisory Board
- DENR Water Quality Collaborative
HWA Board of Directors, Officers, and Staff
Suzanne Klimek Vice-President
Jesse Fowler Treasurer
Don Ebaugh Secretary
Yvonne Hannah Lauren Bishop
Bill Yarborough Eric Romaniszyn, Executive Director
Eric started working as an aquatic ecologist in 1994. He earned a B.S. degree in Biology from Kent State University and a M.S. degree in Entomology from the University of Georgia. His expertise is with benthic macroinvertebrates but he has also worked extensively with freshwater fish and wetlands. He joined Haywood Waterways as Project Manager in 2004 and in 2010 he became Executive Director.
Christine O’Brien, Project Assistant
Christine started working for Haywood Waterways as a Sediment Technician in 2006. Today she continues those duties as well as managing administrative operations and performing education and outreach efforts. Christine earned her BS in Natural Resource Conservation, a MS in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, and a Certificate in Wetland Ecology from the University of Florida. Over the years her main focus has been on freshwater mussels and snails, but she has also worked with fish, land snails and slugs. When she has time, she enjoys kayaking, camping and hiking.
Caitlin Worsham, Project Manager Caitlin started out as a fisheries science technician at Virginia Tech. She earned her B.S. degree in Anthropology from Radford University and a Double M.S. degree in Environmental Management and Sustainability from James Madison University and University of Malta. She joined Haywood Waterways in 2018.