Whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, and ice skating are some of the activities available at the United States National Whitewater Center (USNWC), which is a non-profit outdoor leisure and athletic training facility that first opened its doors to the public in 2006. On approximately 1,300 acres (530 ha) of land close to the Catawba River, the Center is home to more than 45 miles (72 km) of built trail. The Center is located in Charlotte, North Carolina area, and is open to the public.
The main attraction of the Center is the recirculating artificial whitewater river, which is the largest and most sophisticated of its kind in the world. Scott Shipley, a three-time Olympian, was responsible for the design of the river channels.
Each day, the Center’s recirculating river is filled with 12 million gallons of water, which is thoroughly cleansed by a filter and ultraviolet system that runs around the clock. It has a total length of 3,750 feet (1,140 m) of channel, which is separated into two channels: the shorter slalom competition channel, which is Olympic-standard, and the longer wilderness channel, which separates around an island towards the top.
The rapids range in difficulty from Class II to IV, and they can be navigated by canoe, kayak, or guided raft. Each channel is connected to the next by an Upper and Lower Pool, which are connected by a moving-belt boat-lift conveyor that transports boats between them.
The facility is equipped with a total of seven Flygt submersible pumps with a combined output of 620 horsepower. Three of the pumps are responsible for watering each channel. Six pumps will be used to water both channels at the same time. The cost of electricity for each pump is approximately US$45 per hour.
When just one channel is used, an Obermyer Gate with a low pressure air bag that is operated separates the top of either the Wilderness or Competition Channel from the upper pond, preventing water from entering. The Wilderness Channel has a gentler slope than the other channels, despite the fact that they both have the same vertical drop of 6.4 metres (21 feet).
The majority of the water diverters are natural stones that have been cemented in place, however there are a few that are moveable plastic bollards that are attached to the bottom of the pond. Several barn door diverters are hinged to the channel sides and positioned by hydraulic pistons; two are located above the M-Wave on the long channel and three are located on the short channel of the slalom competition course. The M-Wave is an irrigation channel near Newell, North Carolina, that is intended to imitate the renowned M-Wave in the surrounding area.