2002 News Archive
December 27, 2002
For those of you who didn't know, today is my birthday and I just got one of the best birthday presents I have ever gotten. It was announced that FERC has issued a response to APGI's variance request that in the event the drought continues into next year they not be required to have High Rock lake refilled by May 15, 2003. The response states that APGI “should ensure High Rock reservoir is within five feet of full by May 15, 2003 through September 15, 2003”. FERC’s December 20, 2002 letter also instructs Alcoa to develop an operation plan that would ensure High Rock Lake is maintained within five feet of full pool, even if drought conditions return next Summer, and submit that plan to FERC by February 15, 2003! This notice appears to effectively end the "Post Sept. 15th Protocol" but specifically instructs APGI to use what was learned during the summer of 2002 to create their drought contingency plan for 2003 even though APGI specifically included wording in their original variance request stating that it should not be used as a precedent for future actions.
Click HERE to view a copy of the letter from FERC to APGI
It looks like for one of the first times ever, FERC has heard and listened to the collective voices of everyone working so diligently to get FAIR and EQUITABLE treatment for High Rock Lake. This is a great victory and should be a reminder that we MUST continue our efforts to obtain changes in the way APGI manages High Rock Lake. Hopefully this is a sign that during relicensing FERC will be listening and require changes to honor the intent of the provisions included in the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986.
Thank you for all of your efforts and support,
Robert "Pete" Petree
December 24, 2002
The last couple of weeks have been full of unusual events. We spent many days without power, spent many more days cleaning up the debris from the storm and have enjoyed a lake at almost Full Pond the whole time. I'm not sure if APGI has decided to abide by the terms of the "Post Sept. 15th Protocol" or if we've just had more rain than they could consume. Whatever the reason, I'm truly thankful. There have been several days that were great for a leisurely brisk pontoon boat ride. The fisherman seem to be taking advantage of it on a pretty routine basis also.
It appears that APGI is beginning their prep work for relicensing also. They have applied to have the High Voltage transmission lines and equipment from the Tuckertown Dam and High Rock Dam to the Badin Works facility removed from the Project 2197 description. Their reasoning appears to be that since these lines are used to carry power that they buy or sell to Duke Power and CP&L they have become part of the regional power grid and should not be considered part of Project 2197. At this point we haven't figured out if this is simply a removal on paper to reduce the value of the project ( they must declare the fair market value of the project as part of relicensing ), or if they truly intend to remove this equipment and connect their generating capacity to the regional power grid. If they connect everything to the existing grid it would seem that their classification as an industrial power generator for their own processes would have to be changed. Whatever the reason, it's no mistake they are trying to have their license amended BEFORE relicensing instead of during the process that has already begun. As soon as we figure out what the advantage is to them we'll let you know.
The NC Dept. of Water Quality has scheduled a series of meetings beginning Jan. 9, 2003 concerning the Draft Yadkin-Pee Dee Basinwide Water Quality Plan. These meetings will be discuss the plan to restore and protect the water quality of the entire river basin. If you are concerned about the water quality of the river basin and the strategies used to restore or protect the quality of the water we all use for many purposes, read the plan HERE and try to attend one of the meetings near you. Click HERE for details concerning the dates and locations of these meetings.
There are only a couple of weeks left to submit your "Public input" forms for relicensing to APGI. Don't let the fact that the lake has been full during the weeks designated as the period for the general public to submit their comments fool you into thinking anything has changed. The rules they operate under are still the same as they were this summer and unless you submit your requests for changes during this period there is no chance they will even be addressed. The deadline is Jan. 12, 2003. Be sure they know how YOU feel about water levels, maximum drawdowns, drought regulations, protection of the environment, protection of the wildlife, protection of the rights of recreational users, etc. etc. etc.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND WISHES FOR A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!! THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT THIS YEAR. WE LOOK FORWARD TO A NEW YEAR OF POSITIVE CHANGES FOR THE FUTURE OF HIGH ROCK LAKE.
December 4, 2002
Next next week will be busy for many of us. Make plans to participate as many of the following events as you can. Check the "Events" and "Meetings" pages for locations and times.
We would like to commend Mayor Susan Kluttz and the City of Salisbury for the Resolution they passed and filed with FERC in support of obtaining recreationally friendly water year round at High Rock Lake. Thank you for your support and welcome to our challenge of getting fair and equitable treatment for High Rock Lake. This is another BIG step forward in gaining official political and governmental support of our cause. Hopefully the Davidson County Commissioners will jump on the band wagon next Tuesday.
Considering that High Rock Lake is approaching 6 feet below full pond, Badin is down less than a foot and High Rock is the only lake expected to fall it is apparent APGI has decided to ignore the first sentence of "Item 5" of the "Post Sept. 15th protocol" variance THEY requested. It states "Subject to operational and environmental considerations, one goal will be a proportional drawdown of the APGI and CP&L reservoirs". Apparently their "Operational considerations" are all that is really important to them. It also appears that "Item 7" is now history. It states "The parties will cooperate with each other in communicating with the public regarding actions under this protocol". The last communication on 11/8/2002 from NCDENR stated "Normal operations do NOT mean the drought is over and the protocol has ended." If that is the case the proportional drawdowns should still be in effect and we should still be getting updates concerning what they intend to do with the water levels. There is definately NOT any information posted on APGI's web site concerning what they intend to do between now and March 5, 2003 when the "Protocol" is technically supposed to end.
Read the editorial recently published in the Salisbury Post about High Rock and APGI's management and check out APGI's response to it. It's amazing that they continue to insist they did all the right things and we should be grateful they reacted to the drought emergency appropriately. It's a corporate thing, NEVER ADMIT ANYTHING. Unfortunately that mentality will force them to ask for a new license that contains little to no restrictions and gives them the discretion to use their best judgment in many situations. Do NOT let that happen !! Remember, nothing has really changed and it is VERY important that YOU submit your "Public Input" form for relicensing to APGI !! Insist on clearly written regulations that leave no room for misinterpretation concerning water levels, drought provisions, drawdowns, etc.
November 27, 2002
Mark your calendars on December 11, 2002. We will be holding our next public meeting of SaveHighRockLake members at the Elks Lodge in Lexington. The agenda will include updates on our preparations for the relicensing IAG's, adoption of our By-Laws and a chance for you to ask questions or tell us what you think we should be pursuing . The meeting should not last too terribly long but it's important for you to provide input about what you think we should be doing. We will get directions on the "Meetings" page this weekend for those of you who don't know exactly where the Elks Lodge is.
What a difference a week can make. We went from above average river flow and almost full pond to average river flow and almost 5 feet down. Based on this graph from the Rockingham sensor it appears that APGI has been running at maximum capacity 24 hours a day for more than half of the last 30 days.
Guess it's time for the operations department of APGI to fulfill their fiduciary duty to their stockholders. Somehow I missed the part where the drought was declared over and the 900 cfs of the Post Sept. 15th Protocol was ended. We've had over 5 inches of rain in the last 30 days and our drought conditions have been downgraded to "Moderate" but it is obvious from the Yadkin College readings that as soon as the high flows subside from each rain event, the flows dip below the averages for this time of year. Unless we can maintain these big rain events throughout the winter we'll soon be at normal winter pond. It's a shame they feel no fiduciary duty to the citizens of North Carolina who technically own the water resources that they are allowed to use.
Don't forget to submit your "Public Input" forms to APGI - It's VERY important!!!!!
November 20, 2002
The "Public Input" form available for download from the "FERC Proj 2197 / Relicensing" and "You can Help" pages has been updated to a lined version that can be printed and filled out by hand, and an unlined version that can be downloaded, edited in Microsoft Word and e-mailed in.
As promised, the "Public Input" forms for relicensing can now be found at the following businesses.
The list will be maintained and updated as we get them in other businesses on the "FERC Proj 2197 / Relicensing" page. Pick some up and make sure all of your neighbors get a chance to fill one out and send it in.
Our application for participation in the Issue Advisory Groups has been sent in. We are applying to participate in the Recreation, Fish/Aquatics, Terrestrial/Wetlands and Water Quality groups. These groups are of the most interest to our membership of Recreational users, sportsmen and environmentalists. Now we can only wait for the reply from Long View Associates, the consultants APGI has hired to assist them with relicensing. Evidently they are the ones who will be evaluating the groups applying to be in the IAG's and deciding who will be allowed to participate.
We've also begun our campaign to get our politicians involved in protecting the rights of tens of thousands of North Carolinians by beginning with our Governor. Next week we'll send packets to the Lieutenant Governor, Elizabeth Dole and all of the Representatives for areas within 75 miles in the House of Representatives.
The lake is full ( of water and trash ) and looks superb. With lots of water coming down the river there is plenty for making power while still keeping the lake full. Don't know how long those kind of flows will continue but for now everybody can be happy. The views of the trees as they turned this fall were superb from a pontoon boat. The crisp air made a leisurely afternoon ride enjoying the colorful scenery extremely refreshing. This is one of the first years we've been able to enjoy this kind of activity without worrying about damaging our boats. Maybe that's a little bit of payback for those of us who lost our summer :-)
November 12, 2002
According to NCDENR we are out of Drought Emergency mode and are back in normal Power Generating mode again but they assure us that the Protocol is still in effect. We e-mailed them and asked lots of questions about the limits listed in the protocol but their response was only that they would be watching conditions closely and would intervene again if conditions warranted. If the Protocol variance requested by APGI and approved by FERC is truly not over, then the drawdown limits included in it should still be in effect and any drawdowns of the lakes should be distributed equitably amongst all of the lakes. I guess we'll see how APGI interprets those rules now that NCDENR is no longer actively involved.
We contacted Pat Shaver at APGI and got the approval to submit "Public Input" for relicensing on a form created in Microsoft Word that is similar to the one that APGI had printed. She also agreed to accept the completed form via E-mail. We have created the form and it is available for download from our "FERC Proj 2197 / Relicensing" page. Either print the form, fill it out and mail it in or download the form, complete it using Microsoft Word, save it and then E-mail it to her. This should make it impossible for anyone to claim they didn't get a chance to express their concerns. The only way it could be any easier would be to attend the remaining public meeting in Salisbury tomorrow and verbally express your feelings while they record what you say to be transcribed later and added to the official records. It is IMPERATIVE that ALL of us provide input about what issues we think need to be addressed during relicensing. If you don't tell them what you think, they are under no obligation to care!!
Since we have had above normal rains for two months the lakes are in excellent condition and the river flows are near normal for this time of year. Don't let that lull you into becoming complacent about the coming relicensing process. South Carolina certainly hasn't forgotten even though flows in the Pee Dee are at or above normal. The recent article in the Myrtle Beach Sun News demonstrates that they are still very much planning to protect their interests and we need to be prepared to protect ours as well
If you did not see the article in the Friday edition of The
Dispatch then I'm betting that you probably didn't know about the "Yadkin
- Pee Dee Lakes Project". This is a funded organization whose
purpose is "To promote and support efforts to balance economic development
and environmental management in the Uwharrie Lakes Region". They are
being supported by local business leaders and are working with public and
private interests in finding ways for the region to grow its economy while
preserving its natural and cultural assets. The purpose of The Yadkin-Pee Dee
Lakes Project is to serve as a clearinghouse for information on sustainable
economic development, support regional projects, garner public support for and
understanding of long-term, regional planning, and to coordinate local, county,
and regional efforts. We contacted them to be sure they were participating in
relicensing since their success in many areas is contingent on their being a
lake for tourists to visit. I am happy to say that they were well aware of
the issues and fully plan to participate in protecting the public's interest in
November 7, 2002
For those of you who were unable to attend the public meetings this week, you missed a very nicely done multimedia presentation about the history of FERC project 2197. More importantly, you missed your first opportunity to provide input about what changes you would like to see made to the new license for the next 30 to 50 years. The good news is you have until January 12, 2003 to provide your input in writing. We have plenty of the official forms to submit your comments on. They can be picked up at the Boat Dock Beach Club now and we will have some in several lake area businesses by next week. We will also have them available for download from the FERC Proj 2197/Relicensing page by the first of the week also. This is your chance to tell them what changes you would like to see made in the way the lakes are managed. Without that input it's a sure bet that nothing will change. It is REALLY important for EVERYONE to submit their comments so it is obvious that thousands think changes should be made. Check the Needed Changes page and be sure you mention the items there as well as any other changes you personally think should be made. If you like the way the lake looks right now, your input is imperative to helping make changes that will require APGI to maintain High Rock Lake no lower than it is right now on a year round basis.
You also missed the opportunity to sign up for tours of the Badin, Falls, Tuckertown and High Rock Dams and Power Houses on November 12th. It's not too late for that either if you are interested. Tours of the Badin and Falls facilities require pre-registration via the official form provided at the meeting but tours of the High Rock and Tuckertown facilities do not require pre-registration and will be held hourly beginning at 8:00 am and continuing until 4:00 pm.
We'd like to welcome Harry Hicks on board as our newest Director at SaveHighRockLake.org. Harry fills the final position on our board created by the adoption of our By-Laws by our Board of Directors. Harry will be a valuable addition to the team striving to make positive changes for High Rock Lake as well as the entire Yadkin/Pee Dee river basin.
November 3, 2002
This coming week will be an important one to all of us. On Tuesday we elect the officials we will be expecting to help represent our interests in High Rock Lake. At this time the only pledges we have for support are from Watson Gregg and Max Walser in the Davidson County Commissioners race. Stan Bingham has shown a great deal of interest and support and has attended almost every event we have had so far. In the Davidson County Sheriff's race, Roy Holman joined our group at the High Rock Lake Coalition Rally and indicated that he would support some changes in the lake patrols but we haven't gotten any specifics as to what the changes might be. Elizabeth Dole did write a letter but has not expressed any specific support that we know of. Keep these in mind when you vote on Tuesday.
Wednesday and Thursday are the first of the official relicensing meetings. Attend the meeting nearest you and express your thoughts and concerns. This is the time for public input and we want to be sure that there is plenty of it. Make sure they know you feel the only people who should be in control of our natural resources are those whose primary interest is the protection of those resources. Tell them it is time to stop operating High Rock Lake like a flood control reservoir and limiting much recreational activity to the summer. By maintaining all of the lakes within 4 feet of full pond year round the important wetlands and habitat for fish and wildlife would be enhanced and protected as well as allowing for SAFE recreational activity. Let them know that you think there must be specific rules that MUST be followed whenever the Yadkin River basin is in a drought. Once again those rules should come from natural resource management agencies. The amount of water designated as available storage for hydro generation needs to be limited to no more than 50 percent of the average depth of any of the lakes. The rest must be reserved for protection of the environment and wildlife. Whenever conditions require drawdowns that must exceed the 4 foot target level, all of the lakes in the river basin must share the burden equally using equal percentages of the available storage capacity from each lake. Drawdown rates should be limited to a maximum of 1.2 feet per week. Finally, ask them to enhance the information on their web site to include lake level projections for at least 7 days in advance so adjacent property owners and vacationers will be able to effectively plan their recreational activities and protect their watercraft investments. APGI needs to hear these ideas from thousands of us to emphasize how strongly we feel about them. They are all reasonable requests and should be within the scope of the rights afforded all of us by the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986.
The Interest Advisory Group applications have been sent out and must be returned this month. These are the groups that will work together to recommend what rules and restrictions should be written into APGI's new license. The Interest Advisory Groups are 1) Fish/Aquatics 2) Terrestrial/Wetlands 3) Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species 4) Water Quality 5) Recreation 6) Cultural Resources. SaveHighRockLake.org will be applying to participate in several of the groups to be sure that as many recreational users and concerned environmentalists as possible are fairly represented in those groups.
It appears that the the drought conditions here have been downgraded from "Exceptional" to "Severe". According to the Drought Monitor council, "widespread rain fell again last week across the state, improving drought conditions. Short-term drought conditions have been largely eliminated with above-normal rainfall over the past several weeks. However, long-term drought conditions persist, with the most severe in the western piedmont. It will require several months of normal to above-normal rainfall to completely eliminate drought conditions." While rainfall has been approximately 2 inches above normal since September, we are still about 4 inches below normal for the year and around 25 inches below normal since 1998.
October 29, 2002
The High Rock Lake Coalition Rally at Tamarac Marina was a huge success. Our goal of keeping awareness levels up and being sure everyone understood we are all here for the long haul through relicensing was realized. With press coverage from four or five newspapers and at least two television stations, our cause was well publicized and conveyed to thousands. The unity of all of the groups in the Coalition was applauded by those present as well as in the press afterward.
While in the beginning it seemed to many of us that we were struggling along with little support from our elected officials or local governmental agencies, it appears that the tide may slowly be turning. The Lexington City Council announced today that they would be joining us in our endeavor to stabilize water levels and protect this valuable natural and economic resource. Read the article from The Dispatch HERE as well as the editorial commending our efforts to work together HERE. Hopefully the Davidson County Commissioners will follow suit shortly as well as Rowan County and Salisbury. Local governmental support is a HUGE step toward our goals and could provide access to legal resources on a scale we could never afford. With any luck this is just the beginning of snowballing support for fair and equitable treatment of High Rock Lake for the first time in 74 years.
Be sure and vote on November 5th and keep in mind that Watson Gregg and Max Walser have signed a pledge with the Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake to work with us toward establishing acceptable environmental, recreational, and properly managed lake levels. We are waiting for a reply from Roy Holman concerning his ideas of how the Sheriffs Department patrols on the lake might change if he is elected. We'll pass them along as soon as we get them.
By all means be absolutely sure to attend the relicensing meeting nearest
you and express your opinion. Recreational, environmental and economic
concerns are at an all time high and the Electric Consumers Protection Act of
1986 states that all of these must be given equal consideration to power
generation in licensing decisions made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
October 25, 2002
The Lake levels and projections released today indicate that we're back in power generation mode. NCDENR states in the projections that "With the reservoirs and flows being at or above normal levels for this time of the year, Alcoa and CP&L will be doing normal power operations for the up coming week" but as near as I can tell by the Yadkin College flow sensor, inflow is approximately 1000 cfs below normal for this time of year so I guess they must have somehow mistakenly included flows in their statement. I guess everybody went to all of the effort to refill all of the lakes just to prove they could. Now that it's been proven, we're back to pulling High Rock down to winter pool levels just because it has always been pulled down in the winter. Maybe we don't really need to conserve water in the winter since we never have before. We obviously don't need to be discharging water to help SC out since the flows at Rockingham have been about 2000 cfs ABOVE average all week. At least they should have been able to get rid of all their stored industrial wastewater. Looks like we can expect the lake to drop about a foot a week until river flows drop down enough to start making everybody nervous again. As I stated earlier this week, absolutely NOTHING has changed except the lake levels and now that some of the pressure is off I guess NOTHING at ALL has really changed.
October 23, 2002
The first official relicensing meetings have been scheduled. Check the Meetings Page for details.
The High Rock Lake Coalition along with several representatives from area businesses met with Judy Rossabi of Senator John Edwards office on Monday. Representatives from each group in the Coalition presented her with packets of information concerning the past, present and future issues at High Rock Lake and how each organization was planning to participate in the relicensing process. In our cover letter to Senator Edwards we made it clear that we were not looking for a simple political endorsement but were asking that his office actively participate in the relicensing process to help protect our environment and the rights of tens of thousands of North Carolinians. We'll let you know if/when we get a commitment to help.
We will be sending a similar packet and request to other politicians starting next week. As we get responses we will keep you informed of who offers help and support and who does not.
High Rock Lake is up to a truly exciting level. Since water levels have come up there are already signs of waning interest in the situation here. Be sure everybody understands that absolutely nothing other than the current water level has changed or been "fixed". We will still need the help and support of every stakeholder in Project 2197 to get changes made in the new license to ensure that watershed management in the Yadkin River basin is controlled by WATERSHED MANAGEMENT experts and not by private power companies.
We will be working at the BBQ Festival this Saturday signing up new members and continuing to raise awareness of the problems at High Rock Lake. We will have raffle tickets for the Bob Timberlake print to be given away on Sunday at the High Rock Lake Coalition Rally. Check the Events Page for details about the rally.
The Lake Levels and Projections will be posted Friday evening as usual.
October 18, 2002
Thanks to good management and lots of rain, all of the lakes are near full. If I'm not mistaken High Rock is higher than it has been in two years or more ( or very close to it ). The weekly projections for this week indicate that this week APGI and CP&L will be operating as normal from a power generating standpoint. Thanks to the efforts of those involved in the Post Sept 15th Protocol, there is enough water available for that to happen. APGI and CP&L have been very cooperative during this recovery period and I think we should all be grateful for that. NCDENR notes in this weeks projections that normal generation this week does NOT indicate that the drought is over or the end to the Protocol operations so hopefully we can look forward to more cooperation from all parties involved.
We posted some new pictures this week of the recent fish kill and the mess that was left as the fish decayed. Fortunately for all of you I couldn't find a way to allow you to enjoy the aroma that lingered for weeks.
Don't forget our membership drive at the BBQ Festival in Lexington this coming Saturday or the High Rock Lake Coalition Rally at Tamarac Marina on Sunday.
October 14, 2002
Sorry for the long period between updates, but when I returned from California this weekend my den had flooded and my computer was sitting in water so I had to transfer everything to update the web site to my laptop.
The Lake Levels and Projections page is back. Seems that a power failure had it shut down temporarily. The projections for this week look good but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where the priorities are. Since every other lake is expected to rise this week as well as High Rock and they intend to release 857cfs from the Yadkin project to CP&L it is obvious that over 1000 cfs will have to be passed through High Rock to allow that to happen instead of going ahead and allowing High Rock to come close to full pond like the rest of the lakes. This seems unnecessary since the flow at Rockingham has been over 10,000 cfs since Friday and peaked at over 20,000 cfs. There seems to be PLENTY of flow for SC to dilute their industrial discharges this week without taking it from High Rock. I guess you don't get the most power bang for your buck unless you pass as much water as you can through all of the dams in the chain.
The deadline has passed for filing comments on the "Post Sept 15th Protocol" variance request. There were once again a considerable number of filings on this request. SaveHighRockLake.org filed COMMENTS as well as a MOTION TO INTERVENE on behalf of our membership. This will make our organization a party in the proceedings pertaining to the variance request. It appears that NC DENR and WRC are both becoming more and more officially active in the proceedings and they seem to be working hard to protect the NC interests in Project 2197 but if you read the NC DENR MOTION TO INTERVENE it is apparent that it is still somehow more important to protect Badin Lake than High Rock. After ZERO environmental events at Badin and THREE fish kills at High Rock, they specifically cite ( on pages 7, 8 & 9 ) protection of wildlife and avoidance of water supply problems at Badin Lake as their basis for intervention and propose to reduce the maximum drawdown to 18 feet unless the City of Albemarle requests that it be held to less than 11 feet and be limited to a drawdown rate of no more than 1.3 feet per week. They never even mention the problems at High Rock Lake.
WHY IS THE WILDLIFE AT BADIN LAKE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE WILDLIFE AT HIGH ROCK?
SaveHighRockLake.org held a Board of Directors meeting on Oct 2. The following items were discussed:
The Independent Tribune - Concord and Kannapolis, reported several weeks ago that Alcoa won't be completely shutting down as they first announced. Maybe they decided they needed to protect their position of being an industrial power generator for their own processes until the relicensing was complete. They certainly aren't doing it because it is such a modern, economical, power efficient plant to operate. The good news is that more of the working class people will continue to be employed.
October 4, 2002
Mosquito control spraying has actually begun.
In case you were unaware, there has been an ongoing fish kill at High Rock Lake in Second Creek, Crane Creek and Abbotts Creek. So far the reports indicate 4000+ fish have died even though the report on http://www.esb.enr.state.nc.us/fishkill/killyad.asp only lists the one in Abbotts Creek. Indications from NC Dept. of Water Quality indicate that low dissolved oxygen, an algae bloom and problems with two wastewater treatment plant discharges upstream in Abbotts Creek are responsible for the problems. Their recommendation involves "flushing" the creeks with problems which involves pulling some of the water out of them, so the projection is that High Rock will fall next week by about 6 inches. They also recommend that people should follow these common-sense precautions around blue-green algal blooms:
It also appears that the Drought Management page and E-mail list at NC DENR have been shut down without any notice, explanation or trace of its existence for that matter. That was our source of Lake Levels and Projections that was posted every Friday so I guess we're back in the dark again about what's being planned for the coming week with the "Post Sept. 15th Protocol". It also appears that they have stopped responding to any questions submitted to the E-mail list as well as questions sent directly to personnel at NC DENR. Hopefully this is temporary and not an indication that we have all been forsaken by our own state agency.
I will be out of town next week, but any breaking news will be sent to SaveHighRockLake.org members via E-mail as well as those on our Mailing List.
October 2, 2002
According to a press release from Alcoa Power Generating Inc. today, Mosquito
control is still planned. The press release stated that conditions did not
allow the spray of Anvil®, as originally planned on Saturday and Sunday,
September 28 & 29. If weather
conditions are favorable though, application of the pesticide, between dusk and
dawn, using a single, low-flying airplane, could begin on October 3 & 4,
2002. If weather conditions prohibit the application on those
dates, application will occur when conditions improve.
September 30, 2002
In case you didn't notice, Mosquito control did NOT begin this weekend. According to E-mail messages this is what happened.
Apparently, late Friday the lawyers for Alcoa presented a document to Clarke Environmental Mosquito Control for signature that stated the single spraying that Clarke was about to do would eradicate mosquitoes from High Rock Lake for two years. Naturally, Clarke told the lawyers that was absurd and declined to sign.
Thus, any arrangement between Clarke and Alcoa has ended, with considerable loss to Clarke because of the investments in preparation for the spraying.
The message further stated:
The latest identified traps (5) from the area reveal: (1) ROWAN, 531 specimens from one trap at Shore Acres on 24 Sept., with 49% salinarius and 40% vexans; and (2) DAVIDSON, 822 specimens from one trap at Swearing Creek on 20 Sept., with 53% salinarius and 42% vexans; 711 specimens from one trap at Crow Creek on 20 Sept., with 57% salinarius and 38% vexans; 643 specimens from one trap at Swearing Creek on 27 Sept., with 62% salinarius and 23% vexans; and 419 specimens from one trap at Crow Creek on 27 Sept., with 57% salinarius and 39% vexans. During the last two weeks Anopheles (crucians, punctipennis, and quadrimaculatus s.l.) have been increasing, with punctipennis currently being dominant, and quadrimaculatus s.l. not far behind. Although a decline in salinarius and vexans has occurred in the last week, I still consider 400 to 600 specimens per trap of these two species to warrant control. Besides the area just received another 2-4 inches of rain during Isadore's brush with the state, so numbers will start climbing again in about another 5-7 days. We're not out of the "woods" yet at High Rock Lake. Hopefully, we will be lucky and no human WNV cases will show up in this area.
Looks like we're back to square one. Buy plenty of mosquito repellent and wear long pants and long sleeve shirts.
September 26, 2002
Alcoa Power Generating Inc. announced today that they will begin mosquito control measures as early as this weekend if weather permits. Read the press release HERE.
There have been several new postings on the FERC web site this week. Check them out under FERC Proj 2197. It appears that all of the comments filed pertaining to APGI's previous variance request struck a real nerve. They posted a fairly lengthy response to them. It appears that our North Carolina Agencies are finally stepping up to the plate. NC Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources filed an official "Motion to Intervene", officially giving them a higher status in the proceedings. Now we just need to get the Governor, Senators, Congressmen and County Commissioners going.
Water management by Water Professionals ( and a little rain, compliments of you know who ) seems to be the ticket. Between recommending reasonable withdrawals and the help of some badly needed rain, all of the lakes are holding up fairly well. None are currently at a dangerous level and have slowly crept up all week. Thanks to all involved in making that actually happen.
Don't forget you only have one week left to file Comments on APGI's latest variance request ( P-2197-056 ) . Be sure to express your concern with their request to be excused from the requirement that they have High Rock Lake within 5 feet of full pond by May 15th. They have plenty of time to request that in the future if it's really necessary. I think you should also question the allowable 24 foot drawdown if we actually get to Stage Two of the Prootcol. We've already been there once and PROVEN that it's TOO FAR !!!
Just as a side note, I talked to Garey Edwards with the Albemarle Utilities Dept. Wednesday to inquire about their progress in repairing their water intake problems. To my surprise I was told that they were not actually doing any repairs to the intakes other than replacing the rusted out screens at this time. They have ordered a new and very expensive ( $100,000+ ) diesel pump that will be used if the water at Badin Lake drops below 10 or 12 feet again. At that time they will look at the 50+ year old piping again and see if they can determine what the problem is but they don't really think that the existing pump would be able to pull the water up anyway. They also indicated that since it would be REALLY expensive to run the diesel pump for prolonged periods that they would probably request immediately that the lake level be brought back up some. Lastly, it was noted that even under ideal conditions with everything working properly that the lowest lake level they could actually stand would be about 20 to 22 feet down before they had water vortex problems at the intake. So much for the drawdown schedules in the "Post Sept. 15th Protocol". Since municipality drinking water supplies would probably take highest priority, I guess Badin's new maximum EVER drawdown has been re-established somewhere between 10 and 20 feet.
The Lake Levels and Projections for next week will be posted Friday evening
September 20, 2002
The weekly "Lake Levels and Projections" from NC DENR/DWR are out and it appears that rain is only supposed to be beneficial South of High Rock Lake. They are posted under "FERC Proj 2197" . What little we have been able to gain was given to Badin earlier this week to "help the City of Albemarle until they have their emergency water supply pumps in place". It appears that what we gained the latter part of this week is also going to be sent to Badin. I guess the water pumps for Albemarle are getting worse every week. Maybe they just decided that since we were usually down in the winter anyway that we had gotten all we needed. HELLO, I don't remember the drought being called off just because we have actually gotten a little rain. The groundwater levels are still down!! The recovery will be short lived until the underground aquifers upstream have been replenished.
On a more positive note, Alcoa Power Generating announced today that the relicensing process has actually begun. Look under "FERC Proj 2197" for the announcement. According to Gene Ellis at APGI, they have chosen to use the "Traditional" 5 year licensing process as opposed to the newer "Alternative" licensing process. The "Alternative" process was designed to streamline the process and is supposed to improve the experience for all involved. This means that within 60 days the first round of Public meetings will begin. There will be a preliminary meeting held in every county to make it easier to attend one of the meetings. As soon as the meeting dates are announced they will be posted.
September 18, 2002
The comment period has begun for the "Post Sept. 15th Protocol" variance request by APGI. You have until Oct. 7th to file any "Comments", "Protests" or "Motions to Intervene" with FERC expressing your feelings about the "Protocol" and it's effects on High Rock Lake. For a tutorial on how to E-file your motions click HERE.
September 17, 2002
After a weekend of rain it appears that Badin is going to benefit the most from it. According to Tom Fransen at NCDENR their decision to recommend that some of the water from High Rock be discharged and sent to Badin was to help the City of Albemarle until they have their emergency water supply pumps in place. Hopefully that will be soon and only a couple of inches is all that is needed to keep Badin at a level that allows them to continue to operate their water supply. Did someone reminded them that the intakes needed to be at least 35 to 40 feet down to avoid problems during further draw downs? If they will discontinue the discharges soon, we should be able to capture some of the water headed down the Yadkin and recover what we lost. Maybe the water experts from South Carolina that told us last week in Hamlet NC we were going to get 6 inches of rain and the lake would come up 6 feet will be willing to send us some of what they got since they got considerably more than we did. Making management decisions based on weather forecasts ( we know the weather man is always right ) instead of known facts is not going to help us recover. We have plenty of storage capacity to hold just about any amount of rain that would fall and could then make intelligent decisions about how much we discharged and at what rate.
September 12, 2002
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources held a public informational meeting to present information on the Post Sept. 15th Protocol and current drought and hydrologic conditions in the Yadkin-Pee Dee Basin. The meeting was held at the Cole Auditorium Facility of Richmond Community College in Hamlet, North Carolina. There were also representatives from CP&L, APGI, the SC Governor's office, the NC Attorney General's Environmental Division, businesses in SC, businesses around High Rock Lake, High Rock Lake Association and of course SaveHighRockLake.org in attendance.
Presentations by a climatologist indicated that they expected the drought conditions in the eastern parts of both states to improve somewhat through the Winter and Spring but projected the Upper Yadkin River basin areas to remain in the exceptional category.
NC DENR officials indicated that areas of the Yadkin/Pee Dee River Basin in SC were expected to improve to Moderate drought or Abnormally Dry categories while NC areas would probably remain in the Exceptional category.
SC DNR officials explained how the water flow needs of SC differed from those of NC. While NC uses the water mainly for drinking water supplies and Hydro Power generation, SC needed specific flow levels to be able to adequately dilute industrial waste discharges as well as to avoid salt water intrusion into the intakes of water systems in the coastal areas. When questioned about water conservation measures in SC they indicated that 30 water systems were in some type of mandatory restrictions and 100 were using voluntary restrictions but indicated that water restrictions would not diminish the need for the minimum flows needed for dilution of industrial waste water. They did not indicate how many of the areas in mandatory restrictions were in the Pee Dee river basin. SC business representatives detailed their measures for limiting their discharges during low flow periods but did not indicate that cleaning up some of their discharges to reduce the amount of water required for dilution was part of their plan.
The current plan is to attempt to maintain 900 cfs average flow at the Pee Dee sensor near Rockingham with weekly changes to the discharges from the APGI and CP&L facilities from Sept. 15th through March hoping to use as little of the storage capabilities of the lakes as possible to maintain the 900 cfs. When questioned about how they would factor in the increased flows likely in the lower Pee Dee if they did receive the projected drought relief this Fall they did not offer any details about whether discharge requirements from Blewett Falls might be reduced proportionately. Unfortunately they have not chosen at this time to begin any longer range planning in the event that the drought continues into the spring as it has for the last several years but it appeared everyone agreed that operating in "reactionary" mode as we are now was not desirable.
Most of the natural resource experts seemed to concur that managing the river basin as an entity instead of by specific geographic areas would be beneficial to everyone in the basin but did not present any specifics as to how that might be accomplished.
One of the most important sentiments expressed involved the upcoming relicensing of the CP&L and APGI projects. "If you want to be counted, you need to be at the table". We WILL be at the table.
September 6, 2002
The following was announced by NC DENR / DWR today when they released their weekly projections for next week.
Directions to the meeting can be found on our "Meetings" page.
September 4, 2002
We have our first exception to the Post Sept. 15th Protocol --
Alcoa notified DWR on Saturday 8/31 that the City of Albemarle had lost suction on the pumps at their Narrows intake. The City of Albemarle requested Alcoa's help to raise the reservoir level about a foot. Alcoa did generate from High Rock to help bring Narrows up 1 foot. DWR checked with the City of Albemarle and this was an unexpected pump problem. The City of Albemarle is working on the problem and hopefully will have it fixed soon. Albemarle will notify DWR when the problem is fixed and we can resume deeper drawdowns if they are needed. Until Albemarle can fix the pump problem, the tier 1 level for Narrows will be temporarily raised to a 11 foot drawdown.
August 29, 2002
Tom Fransen of NCDENR announced today that the Division of Water Resources has worked with state agencies in South Carolina and Alcoa and Carolina Power & Light Company to develop a plan for management of the Yadkin-Pee Dee basin’s water resources during this drought emergency. Agreement was reached on August 29, 2002. The plan will protect essential public water supply sources in North and South Carolina, share the drawdowns required to release water downstream among the six reservoirs in North Carolina, reduce the risk of fish kills and other environmental damage, conserve water in North Carolina reservoirs, and provide for the reservoirs to refill as soon as possible.
The plan, called the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin Emergency Drought Management Protocol for Post-September 15 operations, was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today by Alcoa. Alcoa is requesting a variance from FERC to allow the plan to be followed. The text of the agreement and a press release by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are located at:
August 27, 2002
There were MANY comments ( read ours ) filed by citizens and groups from North Carolina concerning the variance request made by APGI but so far the only "motions to Intervene" have been made by South Carolina. Interestingly enough, the motion and the comments made by the Governor of South Carolina were filed at the very last minute and have some VERY powerful wording as to what South Carolina will accept. It appears that last minute filing is a benefit in that others do not have time to respond. The other comments submitted by South Carolina were sent to Senator Strom Thurmond to be forwarded to the Director of FERC in an attempt to apply political pressure. They are now the only ones that have been made official participants in the variance request. The High Rock Lake Coalition is investigating the possibility of filing a "motion to intervene out of time" in an attempt to become an official participant representing the citizens of North Carolina since our elected officials didn't take the initiative to stand up and represent those that elected them. We are all gaining a quick and painful education as to how this process works and won't be caught off guard again.
August 23, 2002
South Carolina is now classified as "Severe" drought but is not currently under any mandatory water restrictions They are determined to force an area in worse shape than they are ( "Exceptional" drought with widespread mandatory water restrictions ) to supply them with precious water until our supplies are completely depleted. They are already preparing to flex their "Political Muscle" to try and force North Carolina into draining what little water reserves we have left in the Yadkin chain to benefit South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Environmend & Natural Resources chose to file their comments by having their most powerful political figure, Senator Strom Thurmond forward them to the Director of FERC instead of filing them through the normal procedures. They are already laying the groundwork to ask that the current downstream discharges continue after Sept. 15th when the discharge could theoretically be reduced to help benefit North Carolina. Since 1928, the Yadkin River has supplied LESS than half of the water flow in the Pee Dee River, but SC is now demanding that it supply ALL of the water needs as far south as Myrtle Beach with no indication that they plan to implement any mandatory conservation measures until we run completely out. Their "Riparian Rights" entitle them to nothing more than "natural flow of the river". Read the SCDENR filing HERE! Read the Governor of SC motion to intervene HERE. Read the Pee Dee River Coalition's motion to intervene HERE. They want our water REALLY bad and are making sure that they have every opportunity to get it.
August 23, 2002
Alcoa Power Generating Inc. announced that they would continue to discharge 900 cfs after Sept. 15th because of their CONCERN about the environmental disaster we are experiencing. They noted how this would cost them considerable revenue but they felt they should do it as a PUBLIC SERVICE. It appears that they FORGOT that if they discontinued the current discharge of more water than they have coming in that they would NOT be able to produce as much power as they can if they continue the current discharge rate. The real loss of revenue would be incurred if they reduced the current discharges to no more than "flow of the river" and did something positive for the Upper Yadkin River Basin area instead of releasing what little reserves of water are left for the benefit of South Carolina ( and some additional revenue from power generation while the water is being released ).
August 21, 2002
SaveHighRockLake.org filed an official "COMMENT" on Alcoa Power Generating Inc.'s request for a variance to their license, reducing the required discharge from project 2197 to 900 cfs until Sept 15, 2002.
August 19, 2002
Representatives of the High Rock Lake Association, Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake, SaveHighRockLake.org and several area businesses met at the Southmont Fire Department and officially formed the High Rock Lake Coalition. There will be a "High Rock Lake" booth at the Davidson County Fair with representatives from each group providing information about High Rock Lake and their respective organizations. Cross organization committees will be formed to begin working on strategies pertaining to the current state of High Rock Lake as well as the relicensing of FERC project 2197.
August 12, 2002
Representatives of the High Rock Lake Association, Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake, SaveHighRockLake.org and several area businesses met at the Southmont Fire Department and tentatively agreed to unite under the High Rock Lake Coalition name and combine their efforts aimed at getting regulatory changes implemented that would be beneficial to everyone concerned about the future of High Rock Lake. The Coalition will provide a single point of contact for governmental representatives and agencies and hopefully will create a group with more influence due to the larger number of people that the High Rock Lake Coalition represents. Each group will continue to pursue the objectives that they had before but will leverage the work of the other groups to avoid duplication of efforts. The board will consist of three representatives from each group with one "at large" representative that is not officially affiliated with any of the groups. The board members will meet on August 19th to form committees and begin planning future strategies.