Lake Wateree, South Carolina, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - South Carolina - Olde English District -

Also known as:  Wateree Lake

Lake Wateree lies 30 miles northeast of Columbia, South Carolina near Interstate 77. Duke Energy created the lake in 1920 by building a dam on the Catawba River to provide hydro-electric power for textile mills and the surrounding area. Lake Wateree is 27 miles long and covers more than 13,800 acres with 242 miles of shoreline when full. The lake derives its name from the Wateree Creek that empties into the lake near the dam. The Catawba and the Wateree Rivers are the same body of water that changes names at the lake. Fairfield, Kershaw, and Lancaster Counties border the lake, whose residents enjoy its recreational pursuits and the income from the influx of year-round visitors. The history, beauty, and mild climate of the area make it an appealing vacation spot as well as an inviting place to live.

Careful monitoring and strict regulations have made this lake one of the few left in South Carolina that are clean for swimming and safe for eating the fish that are caught there. Wateree Lake provides areas of interest for everyone from children to seniors and activities that range from bird-watching to jet-skiing. Five marinas located at various points around the lake offer refueling, boat slips, boat and jet-ski rentals, fishing equipment rentals, boat storage areas, fishing and camping supplies, snacks and groceries, and lots of free information. Boat ramps are plentiful, and several are state-provided with no charge to boaters, jet-skiers, and fishermen. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources patrols the lake to make sure that boating regulations and fishing limits are observed and to protect public safety and the environment. Maps and regulation pamphlets are available at the marinas and stores in the area.

The Lake Wateree State Recreation Area is a 238 acre park along the shoreline that provides 72 sites for camping, each containing electrical and sewer hook-ups. Picnic areas, a playground, and bathhouses are also provided. Nature trails and a bird refuge are available for quiet walks, and offer an opportunity to see wildlife such as deer, fox, raccoon, egrets, blue heron, mallard and wood ducks, and even the occasional alligator or eagle in its natural habitat. Fishing areas allow for the chance to catch crappie, bream, largemouth bass, catfish, and striped bass. In the spirit of true Southern hospitality, marina and campground employees and locals will gladly share where to go and what bait to use to make fishing a pleasant and memorable experience. Several fishing tournaments are held each year to encourage both amateur and professional anglers to visit the area. And even though the best fishing is from a boat on the lake, many large catches have been made from the shoreline to the delight of young and old alike.

Cabin, houseboat, and private property rentals encourage the stay of vacationers other than campers. Retirees find a wealth of housing options, from low-cost apartments in nearby towns to log cabins and million-dollar private residences right on the water. Many lakefront lots remain available for those wanting to build their dream home or vacation getaway. Anyone looking to relocate to the Lake Wateree area will find an abundance of housing in all price ranges and a competitive job market near enough for easy commuting.

At 27 miles long Wateree Lake provides an excellent span for sailing, and the mild temperatures in winter and the constant breezes allow for the sport to be enjoyed almost year round. Pleasure boating, water skiing, and wakeboarding are primarily enjoyed during the summer months, but even at its peak such a large body of water never seems overcrowded. Many secluded coves offer quiet spots to swim and sunbathe or to observe nature along the banks while watching the sunset.

Nearby, the towns of Camden and Kershaw which were historically significant in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars offer museums, antebellum homes, community theaters, battlegrounds, and cemeteries to explore. Antique shops, restaurants full of southern comfort food, and specialty shops are also worth a visit. In the spring and fall horseshows, steeplechases, festivals, craft fairs, and battle reenactments provide additional entertainment. Lake Wateree and the surrounding area truly offer something for everyone.

Things to do at Lake Wateree

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Lake Wateree

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass

Lake Wateree Photo Gallery

    Lake Wateree Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Duke Energy

    Surface Area: 13,864 acres

    Shoreline Length: 242 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 226 feet

    Average Depth: 23 feet

    Maximum Depth: 63 feet

    Water Volume: 310,000 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1920

    Trophic State: Eutrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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