On Monday, March 31, water quality manager Marshall Cowans of Duke Energy announced plans to drain Lake Norman at the beginning of May. This drastic measure is required to bring down the levels of Seriously Contaminating Unilateral Materials, which he said are 370 times the accepted limit.
This will be only the third time that such drastic measures have been taken in this country. According to Mr. Cowans, this is due to the increased human and natural wastes accumulating in the lower levels of the lake.
“Think of it as draining a big bath tub,” he said. “When Cowans Ford dam was built, a gate was included at the base for just this reason. We at Duke are quite excited to see it finally opened.”
Refilling will begin on May 15 with the assistance of lake area residents, who are asked to use their garden hoses to put water back in the lake. They will be instructed to simply connect the hose to their outdoor faucets, then turn it on full. Duke Energy will supply extensions for those who need more hose to reach the shoreline.
It should take approximately 8 days for the water to reach an acceptable level, Cowans said.
Residents will not be charged for the water used for this project. Fees will be waived from May 15 to June 1.
Boat owners need not take any action as the lake recedes. Since the water level will be going down slowly, boats will be gently deposited on the lake bottom. As the lake refills, the rising tide will lift all boats.
Cowans said the project has several positives: “This will be an excellent time to do pier repairs, and shoreline improvements. It will also be the ideal time to retrieve lost items, keys, sunglasses, and other such things that have fallen overboard over the years,” he said.
Duke Energy asks that lake residents please remove all objects within their areas, clean them off and deposit at specially marked boxes at local town halls.
A “Lost and Found” fair will be set up July 4th for items to be reclaimed. Details to follow.
This is also a rare opportunity to search for arrow heads, rare stones and shells. If you would like to donate these to Duke Energy’s nature display, please contact Duke at www.DukeNature.com.
Fish will be crowded in the small amount of water remaining in the deepest parts of the lake. For this reason, no fishing is allowed May 15 thru June 15.
Should you find a fish on dry ground, please throw it in to the remaining lake water. If you can not reach the shore due to deep mud, please keep the fish in your bathtub till the lake rises. DO NOT put fish in your swimming pool They can not survive in chlorinated water.
“We ask for all lake residents to be patient and participate in this project. A fresh clean Lake Norman will be our reward,” Cowans said.
The drainage plan is yet another surprising development involving Lake Norman. One year ago, we reported on plans to erect a 35-foot Buddha on the lake.
More information about the lake drainage project is available on the DukeNature website.
See previous stories about Duke Energy’s lake drainage contingency planning program here.
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