river runThe Cape Fear River was once this city’s lifeblood. In the 1700s, settlers built the towns of Campbellton and Cross Creek along her banks because the river was the only navigable waterway in the colony. Later, the two towns joined together to become Fayetteville, and the Cape Fear River still flows through the city. Only now, most residents don’t give the river much thought. We aren’t familiar with the history that has played out along its 202 miles of river banks. We have no knowledge of the changing ecology along the river and what it means for the many species that call it home. We have no idea about the toll that mismanagement and misuse have taken. The potentially crushing changes that the impending water basin transfer plan could inflict on the area is yet another mystery surrounding the Cape Fear for most of us. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. On Aug. 27, Sustainable Saturdays brings the River Run: Down the Cape Fear to the Cameo Art House Theatre.

The 1994 PBS documentary is still the most comprehensive film about the river according to Denise Bruce, Sustainable Sandhills spokesperson “This film goes into detail about the Cape Fear River, the municipalites, the geography and geology of it and its history.” 

She added that, “This film did what it was meant to do — this was a game changer in how North Carolina viewed its rivers. It is also relevant because a lot of things that affected the river 22 years ago are still things we deal with today.”

After all this time, the Cape Fear River is still at risk for over development, mismanagement and pollution among other things. One especially pressing issue for Fayetteville and other towns and cities downriver is the changes that the Cape Fear River interbasin water transfer plan could bring. The plan would allow the cities in the triangle to take 9 million gallons of water from the Cape Fear River. Every day. And not put it back. What would Fayetteville look like with 9 million fewer gallons of water in the river every day? This is, after all, the same river that provides drinking water to the city? PWC, the City of Fayetteville and other communities that depend on the Cape Fear have fouought the state’s decision to allow the interbasin transfer. “The case was heard in June,” said PWC spokeswoman Carolyn Justice-Hinson-Hinson. “We expect a decision in September.”  

“Here, up stream communities are getting water rights before we are even considered,” said Bruce. “That is why we are showing this film… the more awareness we can bring the better. Even though the water basin plan was approved, we can still help people understand.” 

If anything, Sustainable Sandhills is about education and raising awareness. That’s why after every Sustainable Saturday film there are speakers on hand to talk in detail about the films and answer questions. One of the speakers after the film is Tom Hoban from the Cape Fear River Assembly. The Cape Fear River Assembly “represents the views of diverse stakeholders from the entire Cape Fear River watershed.”

The film starts at 11 a.m. For more information, visit the website at

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