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Our Rivers

Also known as the Lower Pee Dee Basin, we refer to the large watershed over which we watch as the greater Winyah Bay watershed because all rivers ultimately discharge into the Winyah Bay estuary near Georgetown, SC. Our greater Winyah Bay watershed includes the watersheds identified below.

The rivers of the greater Winyah Bay watershed have played a major role in the history of the region through which they flow, and continue to play a role in the lives of many North and South Carolinians. These rivers support recreational fishing and other water sports, provide drinking water, support tourism, and enhance the lives of those who live here.

Further information on the SC portion of the Lower Pee Dee Basin is available at: SC Watershed Atlas or by clicking the image below.

Information on the NC portion of the Lower Pee Dee Basin is available at: Lumber River Basin and Yadkin River Basin or by clicking the image below.


Waccamaw River

The Waccamaw River watershed includes 1,640 square miles within North and South Carolina. Its headwaters are in North Carolina and the river originates at Lake Waccamaw, a permanently inundated Carolina Bay managed as Lake Waccamaw State Park.

The Waccamaw River is a coastal plain river with extensive wetlands that leach pigments, such as tannins, causing its dark coloration and description as a blackwater river. This blackwater river flows over 140 miles through North and South Carolina. Along the way, the Waccamaw joins with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in South Carolina, then with the Pee Dee River before it empties into the Winyah Bay estuary at Georgetown, SC.

The entire river is designated the Waccamaw River Blue Trail and its 100 miles in South Carolina are additionally designated as a National Water Trail. Click the image below to visit the Waccamaw River Blue Trail:

Through our Waccamaw Riverkeeper Program, we are actively monitoring, protecting and advocating for the protection of the Waccamaw River watershed, including:

  • water quality monitoring from Lake Waccamaw to Winyah Bay with our dedicated volunteers
  • litter cleanups through our Adopt-a-Landing groups and twice yearly initiative
  • advocating for positive changes in our watershed at the City, County, State and federal levels to protect clean water
  • protecting riparian and other watershed lands for the benefit of our communities, both human and natural
  • promoting recreational opportunities that support our community and our resource based economy
  • and so much more!

Lumber River

The Lumber River watershed includes 1,750 square miles within North and South Carolina. The watershed begins at the headwaters known as Drowning Creek, in the counties of Moore and Montgomery, in the Sandhills ecoregion of North Carolina. The main stem of the Lumber River lies in the Coastal Plain ecoregion with extensive wetlands that leach pigments, such as tannins, causing its dark coloration and description as a blackwater river.

This blackwater river flows over 125 miles through North and South Carolina. All 115 miles of the Lumber River in North Carolina is designated a state Natural and Scenic River. Of these, 81 miles are also designated as a National Wild and Scenic River. The river crosses the South Carolina border downstream of Fair Bluff, NC. Just past the border, the Lumber River joins the Little Pee Dee River.

Click the map below to view the designated sections.

Through our Lumber Riverkeeper Program, we are actively monitoring, protecting and advocating for the protection of the Lumber River watershed, including:

  • holding polluters accountable for impacts to our river and the communities that rely on it
  • engaging environmental justice communities in decision-making that impacts our quality of life and protection of clean water
  • promoting community engagement and volunteerism in river stewardship
  • promoting recreational opportunities that support our community and our resource based economy
  • and so much more!

Little Pee Dee River

The Little Pee Dee River is a 116-mile-long tributary of the Pee Dee River. The Little Pee Dee technically arises near Laurinburg, North Carolina as Gum Swamp, which flows southward, receiving several small tributaries, across the South Carolina border into Red Bluff Lake, near McColl, South Carolina, then flows to the Pee Dee River and eventually drains to Winyah Bay.

Two sections of the Little Pee Dee River are designated by the state of South Carolina as a scenic river: 14 river miles upstream of its confluence with the Great Pee Dee River; and 48 miles in Dillon County.

Click the image below for more information about the Little Pee Dee River’s scenic river sections.

While we do not have a Riverkeeper program specific to the Little Pee Dee River, our Lumber Riverkeeper keeps watch on its headwaters in North Carolina and our Winyah Rivers Alliance staff stay aware of issues of concern in South Carolina.


Pee Dee River

The Pee Dee River is part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin, starting as the Yadkin River in the Blue Ridge Mountains and flowing for approximately 200 miles before it becomes known as the Pee Dee River, then another approximately 230 miles southeastward into South Carolina where it becomes known as the Great Pee Dee River, into which the Little Pee Dee River flows, and eventually joining the Waccamaw River before draining into Winyah Bay.

Unlike the other rivers we watch over, the Pee Dee River is a brownwater river, carrying sediments that cause the color to appear “brownish” as compared to the black water of our other rivers. It originates in the Appalachian Mountains and descends through the Carolinas to the floodplains of South Carolina extensively developed for rice culture in the past.

The portion within the greater Winyah Bay watershed begins immediately downstream of Blewett Falls Lake in North Carolina, flowing to Winyah Bay and including the Sampit River. The lower Pee Dee is navigable for about 90 miles and its lower 70 mile segment is designated by the state of South Carolina as a scenic river.

Click the image below for more information about the scenic section of the Great Pee Dee River.

While we do not have a Riverkeeper program specific to the Pee Dee River, our Winyah Rivers Alliance staff stay aware of issues of concern in North and South Carolina, collaborating with the Yadkin Riverkeeper, the upstream advocate in North Carolina.


Lynches River

With its headwaters just across the border in North Carolina, the Lynches River flows for ~175 miles southeasterly until its confluence with the Great Pee Dee River near Johnsonville, SC. Along the way, it passes through pine uplands, farms and deep swamp forests.

Two sections totaling ~111 miles have been designated a South Carolina State Scenic River and offer myriad paddling and recreational opportunities.

Click the image below to learn more about the scenic sections of the Lynches River.

While we do not have a Riverkeeper program specific to the Lynches River, our Winyah Rivers Alliance staff are involved in advocacy projects and in land conservation projects in the Lynches River watershed.


Black River

The Black River is a free flowing blackwater river, traveling 151 miles before merging with the Great Pee Dee River in Georgetown County.  The Black River Basin is located in Kershaw, Lee, Sumter, Clarendon, Florence, Williamsburg, and Georgetown Counties, and encompasses 2,061 square miles with geographic regions extending from the Sandhills to the Upper and Lower Coastal Plains and into the Coastal Zone.

75 miles of the Black River are designated by the state of South Carolina as a scenic river.

Click the image below to learn more about the Black Scenic River.

While we do not have a Riverkeeper program specific to the Black River, our Winyah Rivers Alliance staff are actively involved in protecting the Black River watershed, both through advocacy and land conservation. Winyah Rivers owns a 456 acre parcel on the Black River in the Choppee Community of Georgetown County.

Click the image below to learn more about Rocky Point Community Forest.


Citizen Engagement – If these important rivers are to be protected, citizen activists must become involved!

Help us protect our local rivers.

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Winyah Rivers Alliance

P.O. Box 554 | 301 Allied Drive
Conway, SC 29528
843 .349 .4007
winyahrivers@winyahrivers.org

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