2004 News Archive
Dec. 30, 2004
As 2004 comes to a close, relicensing activities are actually beginning to increase. We have updated the relicensing page with all of the documents that have been produced to date for your review. The first draft of several of the studies being done were distributed in December and quite a few more are scheduled to be released in January of 2005. The only study too large to be posted was the National Register of Historic Places Eligibility Study. We posted an E-mail link for this particular study in case you wish to order a copy of the study on CD. We also included the approximate size of the larger files to alert you to the fact they may take quite a bit of time to download and display. If you have problems opening them, you may want to right click on them and choose "save target as" from the menu to download them to your PC. Then you can open the copy on your computer without having to wait for it to download every time. We will post the remaining studies as soon as they are released. Keep in mind, that any study marked as a "draft" is still being reviewed by the authors and the IAG participants and may be updated before it is officially accepted as the final relicensing document. As noted on the Relicensing page, any comments or questions you have concerning a draft document should be submitted to us so we can present your questions or express your concerns in the next official IAG meeting.
We are officially in phase two of relicensing and the Board of Directors of SaveHighRockLake.org has appointed Robert "Pete" Petree as the Authorized Representative and Jim Melton as the Alternate Authorized Representative of SaveHighRockLake.org and its members in the "settlement negotiations meetings" that will occur in 2005. These meetings will be the official forum where each participating stakeholder group will lobby for the changes they feel are important and should be specifically included as provisions in Alcoa's new license. As stated in the "Settlement Negotiations Protocol" we were required to sign to be allowed to participate in these meetings, we will not be able to offer opinions concerning how the negotiations are going or what any other participants position is. There will be periodic updates released by the negotiations groups documenting any issues that have been successfully negotiated to a settlement agreement and may also include some general information concerning issues that are still being negotiated. As soon as these updates are released, we will post them here so you can keep up with the progress being made in the negotiations process. 2005 will be a very busy year for relicensing activities. All of the required studies will be finalized and settlement negotiations meetings will be held frequently. Alcoa has stated they HOPE to have a "Draft License Application" ready for public review in September 2005. We are excited about the coming activities and look forward to representing your interests in these proceedings. We have high hopes of helping to effect changes that will be beneficial to all stakeholders in FERC project 2197 for the next 30 to 50 years.
As we wrap up 2004, we thought you might be interested in a few statistics showing what SaveHighRockLake.org is doing for YOU in the relicensing of FERC project 2197 and in serving your recreational interests.
Finally, this weekend promises to be a great weekend to enjoy a little water based fun. The temperatures are predicted to be in the 60's and the lake levels are exactly where we would like to see them on a year round basis for the next 30 to 50 years. If you are even slightly superstitious, begin the new year doing something you hope to be able to do all year long, enjoying High Rock Lake the way it should be year round!!!
In case you haven't heard, the River Rats Christmas Benefit was their most successful ever. Their hard work and dedication resulted in 236 children and 33 families experiencing the true GIVING spirit of Christmas, compliments of the High Rock Lake River Rats Inc. They will be sharing over $26,000 to make their Christmas VERY VERY MERRY!! The generosity of those attending the event was truly heart warming. Thanks to everyone who donated items and/or attended and made the event such a huge success.
The High Rock Lake River Rats have completed the first part of their annual Christmas Fund Raiser with their very popular and very successful Thanksgiving Bash. The Holiday Band provided great entertainment for the hundreds in attendance and a little over $1700 was raised. This money will be added to all of the funds taken in during the Christmas Fundraiser being held on Dec. 5 at the Boat Dock Beach Club. In the last 6 years the River Rats have donated over $100,000 to 80+ unfortunate families and over 1000 underprivileged children. This annual event ensures that Santa Clause IS coming to town for many of those in need right here in Davidson County. Every year the number of children submitted to the River Rats by the county Social Services Dept. seems to grow, while the challenges to raising enough money to make Christmas a joyous season for them seems to increase, Check the EVENTS page for details concerning this VERY WORTHY charity event and make plans to attend if at all possible. Christmas IS for children, and everything about this event is for the KIDS.
Welcome to our newest member, Glenn Mead of Raleigh, NC. Glenn suggested we set up a PayPal account and accept donations electronically. Little did he know that we had just started adding it to out Financial page and were working on adding PayPal links in high visibility locations. You will find a donation button in the top banner of several pages and located within several other pages. As soon as we let Glenn know where the first link was, he became our very first sponsor to donate to our cause using PayPal. If you don't have a PayPal account, it takes only minutes to set one up and it's a fast, easy and secure way to send payments for a variety of things over the internet. If you like our web site and support the changes we are fighting for at High Rock Lake, please consider making a donation. We are getting ready to enter the negotiations phase of relicensing and the last thing we want to see happen is to fail due to lack of funding for expert advice or legal representation.
again, we've learned the hard way that no matter how hard we work or how
positive things may be looking, you can't rest for even a minute. I came
home from vacation and found an E-mail message containing this ARTICLE
that recently appeared in the Washington Post. According to the article,
the Bush administration is considering giving dam owners the exclusive right to
appeal Interior Department rulings about how dams should be licensed and
operated on American rivers, through a little-noticed regulatory tweak that
could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the hydropower industry.
The proposal would prevent states, Indian tribes and environmental groups from
making their own appeals, while granting dam owners the opportunity to take
their complaints — and suggested solutions — directly to senior political
appointees in the Interior Department. This is a
very real threat to everything we are trying to accomplish and WE NEED YOUR
HELP!!! There are only 5 days left to submit comments to the
Department of Interior on the proposal. American Rivers has set up a web
page that will let you customize a sample COMMENT of opposition to the proposal
and send it directly to the appropriate people at the Department of
Interior. Click HERE
on or before November 8th and submit your comments to let them know that you
oppose any regulations that gives hydropower licensees preferential treatment
while taking away the rights of the American public. It's quick and easy
and VERY important!!!
The leaves on the trees are turning quickly and the next two or three weekends should prove to be great opportunities for a leisurely boat ride around the lake enjoying the colorful views. One of the issues in relicensing involves tourism, sightseeing and aesthetics. Put simply, if you enjoy riding around enjoying the views of a vividly colored High Rock Mountain, that is something that is important in relicensing and has to be considered. The water levels are perfect for being able to get under the RR trestle at Flat Swamp. So go out and engage in some leisurely activities that could actually help us in our efforts to ensure water levels in the future will allow this type of enjoyment of the lake on a year round basis. The worst that could happen is you will get away from the rat race and have a day of nothing but fun and relaxation without the traffic hassles associated with a car ride to the mountains. Who knows, you might even get a little bonus and enjoy watching a Bald Eagle in flight or showing off their extraordinary abilities as a fisherman.
The Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake would like to invite you to meet the candidates they have chosen to endorse for Davidson County Commissioner on Oct. 17th. After their candidates forum earlier this year, CPOHRL chose to endorse Loretta Martin and Fred McClure as the candidates they felt would provide the most support for High Rock Lake issues. Take the time to go and meet the candidates for yourself and ask them the hard questions you feel need to be addressed by our county officials in the future. Details and directions to the event can be found on our EVENTS page.
Sept. 30, 2004
In the interest of safety for the volunteers, the High Rock Lake River Rats voted tonight to CANCEL BIG SWEEP @ HIGH ROCK LAKE for 2004 on Saturday. Once again, heavy rains from a hurricane have pushed the Yadkin River many feet above flood stage and filled High Rock lake to the brim. Once again, the lake is full of floating debris and trash from many many miles up the river and the shoreline is littered with tons of other people's trash that will eventually have to be picked up to protect our local environment and wildlife. There have been reports of a huge trash/log jam at the I-85 bridge going over the river with 55 gallon drums, appliances, logs etc. just waiting to break loose and flow into the upper regions of High Rock. Unfortunately, there just seems to be no way for volunteers to safely reach the affected areas and clean them up at this time, and safety is the River Rats first concern. The River Rats would like to thank everyone who pre-registered to help us clean up this mess and would like to encourage them to participate in whatever way they can with the statewide Big Sweep on Saturday. Once the waters have receded somewhat, we would like to encourage everyone around the lake to have their own "mini sweep" and clean up the areas near them.
Sept. 16, 2004
It's official - BIG SWEEP @ HIGH ROCK LAKE has been rescheduled for October 2nd. Miss Susie Q and Miss Pooh have decided that Hurricanes Francis and Ivan shouldn't ruin all of our plans for the weekend. They have "reclassified" the celebration normally held at the Boat Dock Beach Club after Big Sweep is over as a "Hurricane Party". Bring your favorite CD and "finger food" and join in the festivities. The fun begins at 5 and the drink special for the night is "Hurricanes", of course.
Many of us have suggested that Alcoa could improve their communications with the rest of the world by more effectively using their web site. The have redesigned their "Reservoir Data" page and have added additional pages specific to each lake. The new page currently has this additional information posted concerning events that could affect all of the lakes.
and the following is posted on the High Rock Lake page
They also added new pages containing monthly "Historical Lake Level" information for Badin and High Rock. I'm not real sure the High Rock draw down notice that's posted is exactly what we had in mind when we suggested it. Today is the very first day that rule 8 of the "Rule Curve" no longer applies and they COULD begin a winter draw down. Simply stating that it can happen during the next 3 to 5 months is still a little too vague. We were really looking for something that was a little more timely and lets everyone know when it should be safe to keep their boat in the water and when it was time to pull it out. Maybe something more like a "15 to 30 day projection" based on their best guess (barring another hurricane). This is a good start at improving how they get pertinent lake information out quickly and if you didn't notice, they actually call them "lakes" instead of reservoirs.
Sept. 15, 2004
Relicensing activities are gearing back up. We spent two days last week in "Negotiations training" and discussing the negotiations protocol we will have to sign in order to participate on your behalf in negotiating the settlement terms of Alcoa's new license. The protocol is very specific and will require that we not disclose any specifics concerning the negotiations other than OUR goals and positions. There will be periodic news releases provided by the negotiating teams updating everyone on the progress of the negotiations and announcing the terms of issues on which a settlement agreement has been reached. This will insure the issues being discussed are being addressed in the proper forum, at the formal negotiations table. The updates will insure everyone who is interested in the progress of the negotiations will be able to keep up with which issues have been officially negotiated to a successful settlement.
The meeting held today in the Davidson County Commissioners chambers was very positive and productive. Thanks to commissioner Max Walser for arranging the meeting and giving us the opportunity to meet with representatives of NC Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality, Division of Water Resources, and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. The meeting was requested by the members of the High Rock Lake Coalition and representatives of CPOHRL, HRLA, The High Rock Business Group, SaveHighRockLake.org, several of our county commissioners, state legislators and quite a few private citizens attended. Our goal was to convey some of our specific concerns to those in positions of authority and to try and understand what their position might be on those issues during the negotiations process. While many of their official positions will not be formalized until many of the studies being conducted are complete, what they could share with us now seemed to be very positive and generally supportive of the issues that were important to all of us. Now we just have to wait on the study results to come in to be sure the scientific data supports our belief that higher, more stable water levels is good for the fish and wildlife, the environment, the water quality, recreation, the local economy, etc. etc. etc. I may be overly optimistic, but I don't see how the studies could come to any other conclusion.
Sept. 14, 2004
BIG SWEEP @ HIGH ROCK LAKE IS BEING POSTPONED UNTIL OCTOBER 2nd. It appears the planners who decided to change the date of the statewide Big Sweep to reduce the chance of being impacted by a hurricane must have had a crystal ball. The lake is full to the brim thanks to hurricane Francis and Ivan may be bringing even more flood waters down the Yadkin River. The flooding brought tons of trash and deposited it in High Rock, but with the lake at full pond there is nowhere for volunteers to safely walk and collect the debris. The High Rock Lake River Rats will have a meeting Thursday night at the Boat Dock Beach Club to make the final decision, but it appears they will have to reschedule the effort at High Rock to coincide with the statewide efforts and hope the lake levels will have returned to a point that the boats can get under the bridges and there is somewhere for the volunteers to walk. There is still plenty of time to sign up to participate in Big Sweep and it looks like we will have more trash than ever that needs to be removed from our favorite waterway.
Sept. 9, 2004
The lake is FULL and there is still a big slug of water headed down the Yadkin. It started in Elkin yesterday and has just reached Yadkin College. Along with the wall of water is a small mountain of trash. For the first time ever, this afternoon I was brought a pumpkin that was picked up out of the water at the mouth of Second Creek and was told it was one of hundreds that were floating in the main body of the lake. There were also trash cans picked up with Elkin Sanitation printed on them. I guess we will have LOTS of extra trash to pick up during Big Sweep on the 18th and will probably have the opportunity to break our previous record for the amount of trash removed from High Rock Lake. If you haven't already done so, please sign up to participate in Big Sweep and help clean up our favorite part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee river basin. We still need volunteers and Boats, especially from the river side of the lake since it looks like many of us in Abbotts Creek that normally supply boats may not be able to get under the highway 8 bridge. Be VERY careful if you go boating this weekend. There is an enormous amount of trash and some pretty dangerous obstacles floating around in the main body of the lake and is so thick in some places you would probably not even want to drive your boat through it.
August 31, 2004
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has released their "Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin Plan" and is requesting comments from the public until Oct. 1st. This plan presents the NCWRC's goals for management of fish and wildlife populations in the Yadkin-Pee Dee River basin. In paragraph 2 of section A(1) they state "The NCWRC supports all efforts to protect aquatic habitats within the Yadkin-Pee Dee watershed". It seems a little odd that they feel "protection of water willow, a valuable fisheries habitat" is important at Tuckertown, Badin and Lake Tillery, but on page 15 they simply recite the Alcoa line that "water level fluctuations prevent the establishment of littoral vegetation" in High Rock Lake. Contrary to the list of shoreline cover included for High Rock Lake, we DO have water willow beds at High Rock Lake. There are several beds that sprouted up in Abbotts Creek during 2003 after only 10 months of reasonably stable water levels. They have returned in 2004 and were spreading until the they were dewatered when lake levels were dropped in anticipation of heavy rains in early August that never actually materialized. Please take a little time and read the plan for yourself and make any comments you feel appropriate as this plan will dictate how the NCWRC manages OUR natural resources and will directly influence their position in the current relicensing of FERC Project 2197.
If your were unaware, a new nature preserve has been established at High Rock Lake, just north of Panther Creek. The Eagle Point Nature Preserve in Rowan County is now open and there are some new regulations you need to be aware of. "No Wake" bouys have been placed around the preserve by the NCWRC and are considered the boundaries of the preserve. No hunting is allowed within the "No Wake" zone as well as no boating powered by gasoline engines. There is also no access to the shoreline allowed from the water.
When you come to the lake this weekend, there is a great new place to enjoy some excellent cuisine and live entertainment. The former Badin Lake Boat and Tennis Club in now under new management and has been completely cleaned and refurbished. The wait staff's been increased, trained to serve you to perfection and the new executive chef comes with a resume two miles long. Check out the Events Page for more details on this weekends grand opening of "I Don't Care", No Boat and Tennis Club.
August 20, 2004
If you are wondering where our water went, you are not alone. We've had quite a few folks call and E-mail us asking the same thing and wanting to know why the lake was being pulled down during the recreation season. Many were under the assumption that the FERC communication to Alcoa after the events of 2002 had somehow changed something and they would not be allowed to pull the water down as much in the future. In reality, the FERC communication was nothing more than a reminder that they were obligated to adhere to the "Rule Curve" contained in their license. We have stated since the day SaveHighRockLake.org was formed that the "Rule Curve" was a large part of the problem. So far, they have only dropped below line 7 of the "Rule Curve" by several inches on two occasions this year and it was generally for less than a day, Since mid July they have been following the downward slope of line 7 with the lake levels. During the week of August 9th, when hurricanes Bonnie and Charley were predicted to head this way, they began drawing High Rock down as far as they were allowed to in anticipation of coming high river flows when the storms passed thru. Unfortunately for us, they were wrong and we only experienced about one day of significantly elevated river flow. Overall, with the exception of 3 rain events, the river flows have been running more than 20 percent below normal. Now that High Rock is down almost 4.5 feet the only way we will probably see the water come up is to experience a SIGNIFICANT rain event or for Alcoa to significantly curtail their generation for many weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for a really nice tropical depression to pass through and give us several days of rain if you are hoping to see the lake levels rise. Also keep in mind that the marked hazards on the lake are getting closer to the surface every day and it won't be too long before there are MANY new unmarked hazards to contend with.
Mark your calendar for Saturday, Sept. 18th to participate in a "I love High Rock Lake" event. That's the day the High Rock Lake River Rats will be organizing "Big Sweep" at High Rock Lake. The state has decided to move the date of the statewide "Big Sweep" to the second Saturday in October. Their decision was based on the historical data indicating the chances of being affected by a hurricane were much lower if they moved it into October. Unfortunately, the historical lake level data indicates the probability of High Rock Lake being more than 6 feet below full pond (the minimum level for the River Rats to safely proceed) is much greater in October. Consequently, the River Rats have decided to keep "Big Sweep" at High Rock on the third Saturday of September. Since those of us who love High Rock feel this is an important environmental event, we would like to encourage you and all of you friends to come and participate. We will need volunteers to pick up trash as well as Boats and drivers. For your convenience, we have set up an online pre-registration form and have the release forms available so you can fill out all of the necessary paperwork before you arrive.
August 3, 2004
Congratulations to Fred McClure and Loretta Martin on their victories in the county commissioners primaries. Both were endorsed by the Concerned Property Owners Of High Rock Lake after they signed the CPOHRL pledge to support issues important to those of us at High Rock Lake. Fred was actively involved with Alcoa on lake issues for many years when he was a county commissioner in the past and has a good understanding of the important issues being raised during the relicensing process. Lets just hope he and Loretta can get elected and join Max Walser in bringing the influence of the county government into the coming negotiations.
School is starting soon and those of us who enjoy fishing or leisurely boat rides will be able to find a few more opportunities to enjoy our favorite recreational activities. While the weekends will continue to be filled with activity, the lake is already a much quieter and enjoyable retreat during the week.
Some of the relicensing studies are beginning to come in and several more study plans have been defined. The latest updates have been posted on the relicensing page. The next few month promise to be filled with relicensing activities as the remainder of the studies begin to conclude and those of us participating in the IAG meetings begin discussing how the study results will influence the terms of Alcoa's new license. As always, we will be the first to let you know when new study results are in. As your official representative in the relicensing of Project 2197, we will continue to be the ONLY source of all relicensing information available to the general public for you to comment on or question before the studies are finalized. The outcome of these proceedings will affect you, the environment, and the wildlife of NC for the next 50 years. If you have any questions or comments on any of the draft study plans or draft study results, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be sure your questions and concerns are voiced at the next IAG meeting, before the studies are finalized.
July 11, 2004
Our thanks to the High Rock Lake River Rats Inc. for providing thousands with one of the best fireworks displays to be found on July 4th. This years 26 minute display was threatened by rain, but once started the view from the lake was second to none. This event requires hundreds of man hours to prepare for. Permits must be obtained, fund raisers held, sponsors solicited, insurance purchased, coordination of law enforcement and Wildlife officers, music prepared, boats must be moved away from the Boat Dock Marina and then the pyrotechnicians spend many hours setting up the display and timing it to the music. Our compliments to all involved!!! If you have enjoyed the fireworks over the last 7 years, consider going to the River Rats Fireworks Page and making a PayPal donation toward next years display. They are a certified charitable organization so all donations are tax deductible.
On July 20, you will have the opportunity to exert some control over part of your future by voting in the primary elections and selecting candidates who will support the issues important to you. Unfortunately, most of us know little more about most of the candidates than what is pushed upon us by public relations professionals in very short TV ads. Many of those ads don't even tell you why you should vote for their candidate, just why you should not vote for their opponent. In fact, many of us will be faced with choices on the ballot for many offices such as judges, that we have never heard of and have no clue why we should or should not vote for the candidate. Now for the good news. The Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake have spent quite a bit of time evaluating the candidates for Davidson County Commissioner to determine which ones have a reasonable vision for the future growth of Davidson County, not just for continuing on with the "good old boy" mentality of maintaining status quo. After asking all of the candidates to address three questions presented to them at the public forum in May, their steering committee selected several candidates to interview in depth at a later date. The goal was to determine which ones might look beyond their personal feelings and make decisions affecting the future of the county based on good sound economic principals. SaveHighRockLake.org had the opportunity to participate in these interviews and we were impressed with the variety of issues that were posed to each candidate. Of course, High Rock Lake was one of our concerns but there were lots of questions concerning issues that would affect the future economy of the entire county, some controversial and some were just good common sense. When it was all said and done, only two candidates appeared to be willing to look at the "BIG PICTURE" for the county with open minds and address issues using sound business logic. They were Fred McClure and Loretta Martin. Both agreed to sign a pledge showing their commitment to the issues presented to them, including their support for the future of High Rock Lake. Since there are several Commissioner's seats being filled, Democrats and Republicans alike should be able to help us elect a board that will be committed to bringing Davidson County forward. Ones that understand we must compete with the surrounding counties for jobs and business opportunities by providing necessary infrastructure services and developing our existing resources to their fullest potential to protect the future economic stability of Davidson County. Please exercise your right to vote on the 20th and rest assured that your High Rock Lake organization leaders have spent many hours evaluating and interviewing the candidates before deciding to endorse Fred McClure and Loretta Martin for Davidson County Commissioner.
June 28, 2004
This week begins one of the busiest periods for recreational activity at High Rock Lake. With July 4th falling on a weekend, the weeks before and after the 4th will be filled with folks on vacation and celebrating Independance Day. With this increased activity you can expect to also find an increased law enforcement presence on the water (especially on the 4th) checking for compliance with the following regulations:
Remember, Deputies and Wildlife Officers do not need a reason to stop you and perform an inspection for proper equipment. Be sure you have all of the required equipment to avoid spoiling your outing.
The High Rock Lake River Rats Inc. will be hosting their annual fireworks display at the Boat Dock Marina in Abbotts Creek on Sunday, July 4th, beginning sometime between 9 and 9:30.
for more details on the fireworks. If you're coming by land, be sure to get there before 8 pm. The NC Highway patrol will be closing the roads leading into the Boat Dock during the display. If coming by water, there is an above average chance many of those coming from the river side of the lake will not be able get their boat under the Highway 8 bridge. If you do attempt to pass under the bridge, be very careful not to hit your head on the beams or crunch your hand between the boat and bridge. Fortunately the view of the fireworks from the water on that side of the bridge is excellent. Please remember
the above boating regulations WILL be enforced during the fireworks display,
especially the ones pertaining to navigation lights and the observance of the "Restricted Area" in front of the Boat Dock and the "No Wake" zones at the bridges. There will be hundreds of boats clustered in a reasonably small area during the fireworks display so be very careful when it is time to leave. Trying to leave the area quickly to avoid the congestion creates many hazards and will greatly increase your chances of becoming involved in a boating accident.
Several incidents in the recent past have proven that high speed operation at
night can be very dangerous to you and others. Most of the boats present will have to pass under a bridge at "No Wake" speed to leave the area anyway, so you might as well plan on taking your time and enjoying a safe and leisurely ride home.
June 18, 2004
Today, Alcoa announced the next series of Public meetings for the Relicensing of Project 2197. This is your chance to actively participate in making changes to the way High Rock Lake is managed. Make plans to go and ask questions, tell them what YOU think needs changing, and find out what is being done in the IAG meetings to insure that their new license looks NOTHING like their old license. The meetings scheduled are:
June 7, 2004
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission has been very busy replacing the large number of missing and damaged buoys around the lake. It seems that a great number of them were in desperate need of attention this year. If you are aware of buoys that are still missing or damaged, just drop us an email and we will see to it that the appropriate folks at NCWRC are notified.
This coming Saturday you will find two events that may be of interest to you. First, Saturday morning will be the Nazareth Children's Home "Fun Day" in Rockwell, NC. This is a great event featuring the "Fabulous Shakers", great BBQ provided by the High Rock Shaggers, a flea market, a raffle for a car and much much more. Everyone in the Family will find something fun to do. Then on Saturday evening will be the High Rock Lake Flotilla. The flotilla, a fund raiser for Rowan County Schools, will start at Tamarac Marina and form a "parade of boats" that will cruise to the High Rock Boat and Ski Club. Contact Tamarac if you would like to participate in the flotilla.
We decided that trying to keep up with the High Rock Lake levels, manually comparing it to the infamous "Rule Curve" and then keeping you informed if Alcoa was staying within the limits included in their license was way too much manual work. So we decided to create the "Interactive Rule Curve" (which knows the limits of every rule for every day of the year and which ones take precedence over others) and have the Lake Info page compare the lake levels to it every time you viewed the page. From now on when the lake levels are above the levels of line 1 of the rule curve, the lake level will be displayed in green. If the lake level is below line one and one of the rules applies that would restrict allowable generation, the lake level will be displayed in orange. If the lake levels fall below line 7, which enacts rule 8 and restricts the amount of water they are allowed to discharge from High Rock Lake to the minimums specified, the lake level will be displayed in red. We also added a section directly below the weather data that displays which rule should apply, the range of that particular rule, how much power production for the week is allowed by the rule and finally the approximated discharge required on a 7 by 24 basis to create the specified amount of power. What you will notice very quickly is that rules 1 through 5 all allow more power than could typically be produced with the amount of water that normally flows down the Yadkin River. Rules 6 and 7 are based on lake levels so absurd that the limits are not likely to ever be reached again. Rule 8, that restricts the amount of water allowed to be discharged is the only rule that would ever have a positive effect on High Rock Lake's water levels. If you click on the "Rule Curve" link it will bring up the "Rule Curve" with our interactive additions at the top. The interesting information added there is how much High Rock Lake would rise or fall in 24 hours and 7 days if the maximum amount of power allowed by the rule were produced. Those numbers can be pretty scary and show that Alcoa could RARELY exceed the maximums allowed by this screwed up guide. It would be very very difficult for them to ever violate any of the rules other than Rule 8. In reality, the Falls Lake Dam has the smallest hydraulic capacity of all of the dams so it would be very difficult for them to ever discharge more than 8570 cfs on a 7 by 24 basis without "spilling" over the Falls dam. That is still WAY more than would normally be found flowing into High Rock Lake. Check it out and enjoy the satisfaction that you know exactly which rule should be applicable and what the ranges and restrictions of that particular rule should be. Keep in mind that in their license, the "Rule Curve" is not listed as a DAILY operating guide but as a planning tool for the next weeks generation limits so a temporary drop below any given line is not technically considered a violation of their license. The bottom line is that it is a great demonstration of exactly how BAD the "Rule Curve" is and why it needs to be abandoned in favor of clear, concise operating guidelines based on maintaining specific lake levels that can be effectively monitored. As long as the lake levels are maintained within the specified limits and recreation, the fish and wildlife, and the environment all get their "equal" consideration guaranteed by the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986, who cares how much power they make!!!
May 27, 2004
The High Rock Shaggers are hosting a boat "poker run" this weekend. If you want to participate go to the Boat Dock Beach Club tonight to buy your hand. You can also buy a hand at one of the piers in Abbotts Creek on Saturday after 12. Just look for the piers with tons of boats tied up to them and people everywhere having fun. They will be able to tell you which pier to go to and purchase your hand. Hands are $20 and the winner gets $500, with second place paying $250.
May 17, 2004
If you live and vote in Davidson County, you need to make plans to attend the County Commissioners forum being held Thursday evening (May 20th) at the Southmont fire department. Once again the Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake is sponsoring the forum to allow you to meet the candidates and hear their views. There are several questions the candidates have been asked to address to find out what their position is pertaining to High Rock Lake. This is your chance to find out if any of them have a clue what a terrific resource High Rock Lake is to Davidson County and what needs to be done in the future to turn it into a first class tourism destination. Tourism related businesses have been identified as one of the more promising ways to help replace the thousands of manufacturing jobs that have been lost in Davidson County. Lets see if any of the candidates understand that it will take a substantial commitment from the county to make it a reality. Unless the county steps up to the plate and provides the infrastructure services necessary to support tourism related businesses, the economic potential will never be realized. Come and ask your own questions to find out which candidates support issues important to you so you can cast a well informed vote in the election.
Alcoa used the "Alternative licensing process" at their Tapoco project which required Alcoa and the participating stakeholders to negotiate settlements to most of the issues. They found that this was not necessarily something that worked in their favor. The article that appeared in the Charlotte Observer on Sunday may give you an idea why they decided NOT to use the "Alternative licensing process" again here. At the May IAG meetings they made it a point to remind everyone involved that whenever possible they would prefer to negotiate settlements, but under the "Traditional licensing process" it was not a requirement. They also emphasized that not everyone participating in the IAG process would be allowed to participate in the negotiations process when that time came. The ARTICLE might give you a little insight into the types of things that CAN happen during relicensing. It plainly demonstrates that FERC is paying attention to at least some things that are important to the public and insists that the issue be resolved before they will issue a new license. Lets just hope that we can find the support necessary to accomplish major changes here.
May 7, 2004
We have officially entered the next phase of relicensing with this weeks IAG meetings. The first study to be completed was the Shoreline Management Plan comparison. The group spent several hours on Wednesday reviewing the study and asking for corrections, clarifications, and in some cases additional data to be collected. The High Rock Lake Association even offered an alternative table layout for much of the data that made comparison of the information for each project much easier. Over the next 6 months most of the studies should be completed and the "draft" version of each one will be reviewed by the Issue Advisory Groups for content and accuracy before it becomes an official relicensing document. Once the study is finalized this is the information that will be the basis for negotiating changes to the way High Rock Lake is operated for the next 50 years. There were some reservations about releasing the "draft" versions of the studies to the public, as they could possibly contain errors until they have been thoroughly reviewed. Therefore, we have added a disclaimer on our relicensing page to remind you that all "draft" documents are still being reviewed for accuracy and content. You are encouraged to read any of the "draft" studies that interest you but any questions you have concerning the facts contained in them should be sent to US before the first of the next month. That way we can convey your questions in the formal review process of the study for clarification. This affords you the opportunity to help us participate in this long involved process and allows us to take advantage of your knowledge or expertise.
The next time you check the lake level or weather, scroll down a little and check out our latest little recreation tid bit. Click on the animated fisherman or the link below it to view the fishing calendar for the next three months. The calendars are based on the lunar cycles and list the two Major and Minor feeding times for each day. They also indicate which days are supposed to be the best days to go fishing. We can't make any guarantees you'll catch more fish but many avid fishermen do believe in these calendars.
April 30, 2004
If you own a business that was negatively impacted by the drought of 2002, the NC Drought Management Advisory Council wants to hear from you. More specifically, they would like for you to fill out their
survey so they can
document the devastating economic impact the drought had on area businesses. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey which will allow them to quantify the real economic loss to our community. This type of data will be very important to future
negotiations in Alcoa's relicensing and may help us get more stringent drought
contingency regulations included in their license. The survey is only about 20 questions total and shouldn't take a long time to complete.
April 26, 2004
Congratulations to Orlando Giles and Brad Younts, the winners of our tournament on Saturday. While the day may have been perfect weather, the fish were pretty closed mouthed and Orlando and Brad were one of only two teams with a limit of fish. Their efforts were rewarded at the end of the day when they weighed in 5 fish weighing 16.04 pounds. Their stringer included the tournaments big fish weighing 4.48 pounds. Orlando and Brad walked away with $870 total winnings. Not bad for spending a day doing what you love. Ryan Perdue and Kenny Bentley weighed in the only other limit for second place and collected $210. The rest of the 12 boat field brought in a total of only 4 fish for the day, so there is no doubt the fishing was tough. We would like to extend a special thanks to Joel Harris, Regional Director for American Bassfishing Club and his wife Mary Ann for all of the time they spent helping us plan and organize the tournament. Thanks also to Scott Turner of the National Bass Circuit for coming and conducting the weigh in. Without the help of these great folks we would not have had a clue where to begin. Their generosity allowed us to raise an additional $530 for our cause, bringing our Spring Kick-Off total to $3350.
Don't forget to pick up one of our License Plates for your car, truck, boat and pier. They look great and each one helps us climb a little closer to our fund raising goals.
April 23, 2004
Today you get your first look at our new "On The Water" weather station located in Abbotts Creek. Several other things changed on the Lake Info page as well. At the top we removed the lake levels for Tuckertown, Badin and Falls since they change very little and used the space to display the water temperature, the Yadkin River flow measured at Yadkin College and an estimate of all of the water flowing into High Rock Lake. If you click on the direction icon in the lake level box it will call up the "Rule Curve" for High Rock lake. If you click on the "cubic feet per sec" in the Yadkin College box, it will bring up the page for that sensor displaying 30 days of data. If you click on the "cubic feet per sec" in the Estimated Inflow box, it brings up the USGS page linking to every sensor in the Yadkin - Pee Dee River Basin. As soon as the last sensor comes in we will begin archiving the water temperature readings and you will be able to click on the link in the Water Temperature box to display a graph of the water temperature for the last 30 days. Check it out and let us know what you think.
If you are a fisherman and don't have plans for tomorrow, we still need participants to fish in our fund raising tournament. It appears that the "pros" will be fishing a tournament at Buggs Island so your chances of winning could be pretty good. Show up at Tamarac with your money and entry form and we'll be glad to sign you right up.
April 19, 2004
I know Alcoa wants everyone to think the "Recreation Season" doesn't begin until May 15th, but it appears that nobody else got the word. This weekend was gorgeous on the lake and many of you came to enjoy it. The only problems encountered were a large amount of floating debris in the murky water and bridges too low for many boats to navigate under. I've contacted the folks at DOT and NCWRC again about putting high visibility markings on the bridge beams and possibly adding lighted navigational markers at the bridges to help nighttime boaters. Both agencies sent positive feedback (again) about the ideas but still offer no specific solutions or timeframes. We first brought these issues to their attention in July 2003, so I guess they need more time to think about it. We all know nothing happens quickly in governmental agencies. It's kind of ironic that they move slowly to protect the general public. Maybe we should change our strategy. Since the lake is part of the "workplace" for Alcoa and NCWRC employees, maybe we should try reminding them that OSHA regulations require that all hazards in the workplace be adequately marked with appropriate warnings. They may be hesitant to do something that is in the best interest of the general public, but they don't have any choice when it involves the safety of their employees. Maybe we can get someone's attention that way. The good news is we won't stop bugging them until someone comes up with a definitive answer.
Our new "On the Water" weather station is up and running. Now I just need to figure out how to integrate the data into our Lake Info page. Hopefully within another week or so you will be able to see exactly what the weather is like on the lake itself instead of some weather station located many miles from the water. Anyone spending much time on the water knows there is almost always more of a breeze on the open water than over land and there are many times it may be raining in Lexington, Salisbury or Denton while it is absolutely beautiful at the lake. The water temperature also lets you know when it is comfortable to go swimming or skiing as well as when the fish should be spawning.
Speaking of fish, WE NEED FISHERMEN!! Fishermen to participate in our fund raiser tournament next Saturday. What better way to show your support of our efforts to put and keep more water in High Rock Lake. After all, nobody does more to make sure the fishermen know everything they could want to know about lake conditions before they leave home for a day of fun at the lake. If you don't have an entry form, you can print one from our Tournament page and bring it with you to Tamarac Marina early Saturday morning.
If you haven't had a chance to get one of our great looking SaveHighRockLake.org license plates yet, I have good news for you. You can pick one up at several area businesses now. So far, you can find them at:
Boat Dock Beach Club
High Rock Campground and Marina
High Rock Boat Dock Marina on Highway 8
Southern Barbecue Too
They should also be at Smiley's Convenience store by mid week. They look really good on both of my cars, my pontoon boat and my pier!!! At only $5 they're a great way to show your support and help us attract even more members in the process. We still believe there is power in numbers and you can help us become more powerful, all day every day, everywhere you go.
April 12, 2004
If you didn't make the party on Saturday night, it was your loss. A very large time was had by all. Congratulations to Terri Green, the winner of the liquor basket drawing and to John Lockwood who won $150 in the Half and Half drawing. While the crowd was a little smaller than last year, those who attended were very generous. The unofficial count shows we cleared over $3000 at the party and part two will happen on the 24th when we have our Spring Kick Off Team Tournament. You also missed out on the chance to be the first on your block to show your support of our efforts by getting one (or more) of our new license plates for your car, your boat, your pier, etc. If nothing else, they will make a great silent protest mounted right below the pier license Alcoa makes you buy every year. If you'd like to have one (or more) for only $5 each, send us an E-mail and we'll get them to you ASAP.
Since 2003 was officially the wettest year ever recorded, there was obviously no need to actually use the Drought Contingency Plan the FERC required Alcoa to develop after their natural resource management fiasco in 2002. The FERC recently issued a ruling on the Drought Contingency plan that allows Alcoa to change the monthly conference calls to quarterly unless we reach the D1 drought classification, but it also requires them to keep the plan in effect until their new license is issued in 2008. This is kind of ironic since most of the Yadkin-Pee Dee river basin has recently been classified by the Drought Monitoring Council as being "abnormally dry". Before it started raining, our rainfall for 2004 was almost 7 inches below normal. Even though the rain might have spoiled Easter weekend on the lake, we really needed it.
April 6, 2004
Easter weekend is traditionally the time when many non residents come to their lake home and open it up for the summer. We want to be sure that you get to have a little fun while you are doing your spring cleaning, so make plans to come out to our 2nd Annual Spring Kick-Off Party on Saturday night at the Boat Dock Beach Club. We'll have Company A playing classic rock and roll, dancing, snacks from Southern Barbecue Too, a Half and Half drawing and a liquor basket raffle. Come and enjoy a night out with some of the finest people I know and help us raise a few dollars. If you read the draft of the SMP Comparison Study you should realize that we will be fighting an uphill battle and will eventually need our own experts or consultants. This is a "Fund Raiser" specifically for that purpose, so come in a generous mood and have a VERY LARGE time. Admission is $10 at the door and you must be 21 years old. Be sure you make arrangements for a Designated Driver just in case you have a little too much fun.
Fishermen will be particularly interested in the latest addition to our Lake Info page. We've added the water temperature (in Abbotts Creek) right below the High Rock Lake level. The temperature will be updated daily until the equipment arrives to provide complete, continuously updated "on the water" weather conditions and water temperature (at least in Abbotts Creek). The weather station has been ordered and it will take a couple of weeks to get it set up and interfaced into the web page, but this "low tech" method should get you the basic information you want most until it is up and running. Once the weather station integration is done, it should just about complete our goal of providing you with complete current information about High Rock Lake on a single web page.
April 2, 2004
The very first study being done for relicensing has been completed and the first draft has been released for review and comments by the IAG participants. This is the study comparing the APGI Shoreline Management Plan to the SMP for 11 other projects in the southeast. This just happens to be one of the studies we requested be done because we felt the APGI SMP was overly restrictive in many areas and possibly exceeded the legal jurisdiction of APGI in some areas. We haven't had time to thoroughly analyze the entire study yet, but a quick examination gives the impression we may have been correct. While the document attempts to downplay the fact that the APGI SMP is more restrictive in many areas, the comparison charts seem to confirm that it is. You can read the DRAFT STUDY on our relicensing page and see how the restrictions imposed at Project 2197 compare to those at many other hydroelectric impoundments as well as several Army Corps of Engineers facilities. Few groups get more restrictive than the Army Corps of Engineers, but at least one did!!
March 24, 2004
Our condolences to the family of Anthony Zanolli of Mooresville, the first drowning victim at High Rock lake in over a year. 2003 was one of the first years in quite a while that there was not a drowning reported at High Rock. Mr. Zanolli was an experienced boater and fisherman at High Rock and was the tragic victim of very rough water created by very high winds. These types of conditions can occur quickly and unexpectedly on the water and make boating in a small boat very dangerous. Mr. Zanolli's teenage daughter and her boyfriend were both wearing life jackets and were able to eventually swim to shore. Unfortunately Mr. Zanolli was not wearing a life jacket and was evidently overwhelmed by the rough and very frigid water. Please remember, boating can sometimes be dangerous and life vests are only useful if they are actually being worn.
If you live at High Rock or Badin Lake, Alcoa wants to hear from you. This week they mailed out a survey to all pier permit holders in an effort to determine how they can improve communications with those who live around the lakes. The questions are an attempt to determine what types of information YOU would like for them to convey to property owners and what your preferred method of communication would be. This is a follow up to earlier conversations between Alcoa and representatives of SaveHighRockLake.org and the High Rock Lake Association. Both groups expressed displeasure with the timing and the method of notification when High Rock was drawn down to perform the Aquatic Habitat Studies this winter. If you would like to see improvements made in the quantity, quality and timing of information conveyed by Alcoa to property owners, FILL OUT THE SURVEY AND MAIL IT BACK!!! If you would like longer term projections of water level fluctuations (more than the present 24 hours), tell them so. If you would like to have 3 or 4 weeks of ADVANCE notice before winter drawdown is started so your boat doesn't wind up sitting on the dry lakebed, make sure they hear it from you and everyone you know. We tried to encourage Alcoa to provide more information to adjacent property owners concerning events that would result in significant water level changes as far in advance as possible so everyone could make the necessary arrangements. We suggested this could be done at almost NO expense to them if they would simply utilize their web site more effectively. This method should insure they wouldn't use the cost of US Postal Service mailings as a reason to limit the information they send out. Remember, if you don't send the survey back, they will have to assume you are happy with what they have historically told you concerning how their operation of the lakes will affect you.
Speaking of surveys, the resident use surveys for relicensing should commence again this month. At last report, Badin Lake residents we returning a far greater percentage of the surveys than High Rock property owners were. DOCUMENTED recreational use of the reservoirs WILL have an influence on the final outcome of operational changes made during relicensing. If you want to "make a difference", be sure the resident use surveys are returned by everyone you know.
If you haven't noticed, there is a new link just below the "lake levels" on the Lake Info Page. This will bring up the famous "Rule Curve" included in Alcoa's current license and used to manage High Rock Lake. This will allow you to see what the target water levels are throughout the year. Notice that it is NOT a water level requirement, it simply limits the amount of energy Alcoa is allowed to produce when the water level is below the various lines. This is a type of "reverse logic" designed by Alcoa, purported to improve the chances of maintaining the water levels indicated but with no real way to enforce any particular water level and consequently little chance of ever being sanctioned by the FERC.
March 17, 2004
The deadline for becoming an official sponsor of our Spring Kick Off Party is approaching quickly. To be able to get the sponsor T-shirts printed up in time for the party, we have to have all of the sponsor logos by this weekend. Just in case you don't know the details of sponsorship, here they are. For a $200 sponsorship, you will get 4 admission tickets to the party, 4 sponsor T-shirts, 4 free adult beverages at the party and a table for 4. We'll screen print all of the sponsors personal or business logos on the back of the sponsor T-shirt. To make sure everyone knows who is supporting our efforts, we will add your logo to the rotating "banner ads" that are now being displayed at the top of our Lake Info page for at least 6 months. The Lake Info page is our most viewed page on the web site, so that could be a pretty cheap long running advertisement for your business and it's being seen by those who greatly appreciate your support. For an additional $100 you can also become a sponsor of our Spring Kick Off Bass Tournament on April 24th. If you'd like to help us out and show your support, send us an E-mail before Sunday and we'll get everything lined up.
Several of you have already asked why the water levels dropping even though we have officially entered the designated "refill" period, so I guess it's time for a quick "primer" on the famous "Rule Curve" used to manage High Rock Lake. First, and foremost, the Rule Curve is NOT a water level mandate, it is simply a restriction on how much power Alcoa is allowed to generate based on the levels of the lake. Based on the Rule Curve, the lake has to be down more than 8 feet in mid March before any restrictions are imposed. This limit will slowly rise to -2 feet by the first of May. The way the rules are written there is no real penalty for not maintaining any specific water level unless they exceed the discharge restrictions imposed by rule 8 during the "refill" period and the "recreation season". The only real restriction is the amount of power they are allowed to produce in any given week if the lake level is below line 1. Generating less power would imply that less water would be discharged and the lake level should be maintained or rise IF there is adequate inflow. There is no way for any of US to monitor how much power they are making and there is actually no "flow measuring" instrumentation used by Alcoa to monitor the amount of water they are discharging. Everything is "reverse calculated" after the fact based on the amount of power they generated. It's no surprise that Alcoa chose to submit this cryptic set of rules as how they thought the lake should be managed, since most of the time the only penalty for not maintaining a specific water level is a slight reduction in how much power they are allowed to generate the following week. It was a sure bet in the 1960's that no one would really understand them and would just assume that the lines on the graphs were "real" water level limits. Since the rest of us "stakeholders" have no accurate way to monitor their compliance our only option is to file complaints with the FERC when things go really bad and force Alcoa to produce their generation records for FERC to review. This oversimplification of the Rule Curve should emphasize why we are fighting to have it completely eliminated and replaced by simple regulations based solely on lake levels, something we can all monitor. Then, as long as Alcoa meets the required lake levels, we could care less if they make 1 megawatt of power or 10 million megawatts. We'll try to work up a web page with the rules and charts of the Rule Curve on it for those who want to check what the limits are throughout the year.
March 9, 2004
It seems we weren't the only ones with lingering questions concerning NC General Statute 77-50 giving deputies from either county full authority on ANY part of the lake. I ran into Sheriff Hedrick this evening and he told me that after our meeting last week he also had a few questions as to whether the statutes applied since the High Rock Lake Marine Commission had not actually been created. He went back to the NC Attorney General and asked for them to render an opinion as to whether the statute applied in the absence of the Marine Commission. This time, the AG agreed that since the Marine Commission had not been created, the "enforcement" section of the statute did not apply and both Sheriff Departments should probably operate within the boundaries of their respective counties. Our thanks to Sheriff Hedrick for following up on this and making sure that everyone was operating within the appropriate limitations.
March 8, 2004
The members of the High Rock Lake Coalition would like to thank Dallas Hedrick, interim Sheriff of Davidson County for attending our last Coalition meeting. We invited him to attend the meeting and address questions that had arisen concerning the authority/jurisdiction of deputies from Davidson county in Rowan county areas and that of Rowan county deputies in Davidson County parts of the lake. The only thing that didn't seem to be in question was the unilateral authority of the Wildlife Resources Commission Officers on the lake. Sheriff Hedrick cited NC General Statue 77-50 which authorizes the creation of the High Rock Lake Marine Commission and 77-58 as giving deputies from both counties authority on all portions of High Rock Lake. While this seems to be true, there is some lingering question as to whether 77-58 would apply as long as the High Rock Lake Marine Commission has not actually been formed. We'll keep you informed if there are any developments on the subject. Once the discussions were over on that particular subject, I had a list of specific questions concerning violations that might get you ticketed/arrested and the possible severity of the punishments. There was a bit of a chuckle from the group when I asked about "topless sunbathing" but that quickly changed to astonishment when the Sheriff stated that the NC General Assembly had ruled that the simple exposure of the female breasts was in fact NOT a violation of NC law. Be looking for a new link in the next week or so on the High Rock Info page for a more complete list of the specific violations and their potential punishments.
It appears that the section of Highway 8 that we tried to "Adopt" last year and were not allowed to because our group's name was also our web sites name will be adopted after all. Once we gave up fighting with the extremely inflexible woman in Raleigh who insisted we would have to change the name of our group to be allowed to "Adopt" the stretch of road, the Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake decided to step up and adopt the community service project themselves. To everyone's amazement, they were also initially turned down also because of their name. It seems that same woman did not like the word "Concerned" in their name and told them they would have to change their group's name if they wanted to proceed. Fortunately for the community, this time she was eventually overruled and they were allowed to continue with the "Adoption".
March 3, 2004
Alcoa made an interesting filing with the FERC today. Since June 30, 1958, Alcoa Aluminum has owned the right to purchase the power generated by Project 2197. They stated that due to adverse conditions in the Aluminum industry they had curtailed production at Badin Works in 2002 and were using only a small percentage of the power being generated by the project. Today they stated Alcoa Aluminum has decided to assign its purchase contract to Alcoa Power Marketing Inc. to sell the electricity at "market rates" until their current license expires. APGI has actually been engaging in this practice since before the smelter shutdown, but evidently they feel that Alcoa Power Marketing Inc. can maximize the profits generated by this practice. Overall this could encourage maximum generation during "peak" periods in the hottest and coldest portions of the year, resulting in lake levels near the minimum levels required by their license. This doesn't appear to be a positive thing for us or those hoping the Badin Works plant will be reopened.
February 17, 2004
According to Alcoa's web site, the Habitat study being conducted at High Rock
Lake was completed on Feb. 13th. The water levels have returned to a more "typical winter drawdown" level and may remain that way for a while.
Unless there is a significant rainfall event predicted, there would be little reason to drop the lake significantly from where it is now.
Alcoa is required to begin the refill process in early March but they are currently way above the required water levels so some fluctuation can't be ruled out until as late as May.
February 14, 2004
Before you head out for the lake next time, you might want to check the water level and more importantly you might want to check and see if there is enough water at your favorite boat ramp to be able to launch your boat. Anyone who has ever backed their trailer off the end of a ramp knows what a pain that can be and can sometimes cause considerable damage to your trailer. We are proud to be the first place ever for you to find that particular information. Thanks to information supplied by Alcoa concerning the depth of the water at the end of the public access area boat ramps, we can now calculate the depth at the end of the ramps based on the level of the lake. We also made the listings change color based on the water depth at the time for quick reference. If there is 3 or more feet of water the ramp listing will be green, from 1 to 3 feet will be yellow and less than one foot will be red. All you need to know now is how much water you need to launch your boat. Check out the "High Rock Public Access Area Info" link on our "Lake Info" page.
February 6, 2004
What a difference a week makes. High Rock has been allowed to come back up about 6 feet and everything looks much better. According to the representatives from Normandeau Associates they have completed about 60% of the Habitat Study at High Rock and expect to be done by
February 14th. That's a huge improvement over the reported progress last week. With the rain we have had today, now they may have to struggle to keep the lake level down far enough for them to be able to work effectively. It appears that mother nature is doing her best to take care of High Rock. Hopefully they will allow High Rock to return to a more "typical" winter drawdown level as soon as the study is complete.
While this may be a politically correct answer to our question, it's difficult for those of us who lived here thorough the summer of 2002 to watch as the lake returns to levels that were so devastating then. Unfortunately, this study is somewhat of a necessary evil in our quest for the future and we fully support its necessity. Unless we can document what aquatic/wildlife habitat is disturbed by excessive drawdowns, we will have a hard time gaining protection for it.
It is interesting to note how differently the drawdowns at High Rock and Badin were handled. At Badin, a variance request had to be made to FERC since the Operating guides in their license didn't allow Badin to be drawn down that far unless High Rock was basically empty. High Rock on the other hand can be drawn down as much as 28 feet at Alcoa's discretion at this time of year without requesting permission to do so. There were notices sent to pier permit holders weeks in advance of beginning the drawdown letting property owners a Badin know exactly when the drawdown would begin and end. At High Rock the only notices sent were mailed only days before the study was to begin there and most everyone's boat was already on the ground. Surely they knew when they intended to begin the drawdown at High Rock and could have just as easily mailed the notices several weeks before they started the drawdown as they did at Badin instead of after the majority of the drawdown had actually occurred. Equality seems to still be an elusive concept to some.
Since there was no request for a license variance for the drawdown at High Rock, it would appear that APGI would be challenged in their ability to push all incoming water through, keep the lake drawn down 16+ feet and limit their generation to the values listed in their license. At 16+ feet down, they are not allowed to generate more than 11,084 MWh (66 megawatts average), which is about one third of what they are capable of generating if the lake is no more than 12 feet down.
January 30, 2004
It appears that the folks doing the Reservoir Fish and Aquatic Habitat Assessment are going to be allowed to use ATVs to help speed things up a little. It's a good thing since so far they have only been able to complete Swearing Creek. At the rate they were progressing there is absolutely no way they would be able to complete the study before March 1st. The only thing worse than seeing the lake drawn down excessively to do this study would be for it not to be completed (which is not really an option) or drawn out into way too long. The data being collected is important to our efforts and if the environment, fish and wildlife are going to suffer so we can get it, we need to be sure we get it ALL. A third person is being added to the crew and the challenge now is finding 3 ATVs for them to rent. This is where YOU might be able to help us "Rescue the Rock" and even make a few bucks at the same time (some of which we would gladly accept as a donation if you were so inclined). If you have a 4x4 ATV you would be interested in RENTING to Normandeau Associates for several weeks, send an Email to the Webmaster by Monday morning and we'll pass it along to the guys. I'm sure they will be well cared for and ridden easily. If you wish, I feel confident they would sign some type of "rental agreement" and be responsible for any damages.
January 28, 2004
Did you notice that today High Rock dropped to 18.7 feet below full pond? I certainly did!! That combined with observing fish in Abbotts Creek flopping on their sides in only inches of water trying to get to water deep enough to swim in was just too much for me, so I emailed Gene Ellis at Alcoa to express my concerns. Even though we know the study being performed is important, drawing the lake down to that level was just plain unnecessary and I asked if we could get a little more consideration for the environment, fish and wildlife for the duration of the study. Gene responded within a couple of hours with a phone call. He explained that the "lake level" measuring gauge at the dam had frozen in place and caused them to draw the lake down further than they intended to. Since the gauge was frozen at around 17 feet, this was the level they thought the lake was at. When they discovered the gauge was frozen they reverted to manual measurements to monitor the levels until things thaw out. He indicated they planned to stop withdrawals from High Rock temporarily to allow the lake levels to come back up a little. Let's just hope the operations department in Tennessee gets the word. This is just another example proving that when you are operating close to the edge, the slightest error can have serious consequences and you may not notice the problem in time if you are at Badin or somewhere in Tennessee. Unless you are AT High Rock, you do NOT necessarily know for sure what is happening at High Rock.
Speaking of the study being done here, Gene indicated that they had completed the assessment of Swearing Creek but they had not been able to do any work this week due to the snow and ice. Since Swearing Creek is one of the smaller arms of the lake, it made me wonder if there was any chance the study would be completed within the time allotted. With a huge portion of the lake being dry, they are having to do most of the study on foot. This is very time consuming compared to doing it by boat as they were able to do at Badin. I suggested that Alcoa might want to consider allowing the folks from Normandeau Associates doing the actual work to use a couple of ATVs while they are working in areas of the lake that have been dewatered. This would seem to be the only practical way they will be able to cover the thousands of remaining acres of dry lakebed within the next three or four weeks. Surprisingly, none of them had actually thought of that and he indicated they would explore it as an option to speed up the process.
We are trying to improve our archive of photos of High Rock. If you have digital pictures of the lake when it was full, we'd like to get a copy of them. If you have a digital camera, we'd love to have pictures of the view in several different directions from your pier with the water levels where they are now, especially if they show some of the fish habitat (rocks, stumps, brush piles, etc.) that is being cataloged as part of the study. We'd also love to have any that depict strange and unusual "stuff" that is normally covered by water and probably shouldn't be a part of our lake. Just include a short description of which part of the lake you are on so we can group them appropriately. Email photos to photos@SaveHighRockLake.org and we'll see if we can put together enough of them to show the dramatic differences when the lake levels vary so greatly.
January 26, 2004
It appears that Alcoa is going to try their best to treat High Rock equally and draw it down at least as far as they did Badin, ignoring the fact that High Rock is MUCH shallower than Badin. We are currently 16.4 feet down and still dropping and every creek feeding into the main lake body has basically been returned to little more than a creek. In the areas where there appears to be more than a creek, most of it is less than 3 or 4 feet deep. The only areas still navigable by boat are the main body of the lake within sight of the dam, the parts of Abbotts Creek within sight of the Highway 8 bridge and the parts of Flat Swamp within sight of the railroad trestle. If you venture into areas other than that, you are taking a pretty big chance.
We asked for a clarification on Friday as to the extent of the drawdown we should expect. We noted that several different numbers had been discussed in the IAG meetings, the study plan itself, and the press release from Alcoa stating a 15 to 20 foot drawdown. The study plan states the objective is to "document habitat conditions in the typical 10 to 15 foot drawdown zone within High Rock" and "At Narrows, Normandeau will attempt to map habitat to a depth of 15 ft". The method at High Rock was to do part of the study at a 5 ft drawdown. The second effort will occur after High Rock is drawn down at least 10 ft, and at this time the remaining habitat in the main body of the reservoir and in the deeper areas of the tributary arms will be mapped. We noted that any drawdown approaching the 16 foot average depth of High Rock seems to be a bit excessive. It even makes the study more difficult and time consuming to complete since thousands of acres of lakebed will have to be surveyed on foot instead of by boat as was done at Badin. The response to our concerns was:
January 20, 2004
The Reservoir Fish and Aquatic Habitat Assessment is scheduled to begin on High Rock today. This is the same study that was done on Badin Lake in December when Badin was drawn down 16 feet for three weeks. This is an important part of relicensing to determine what aquatic vegetation and fish habitat is disturbed by drawdowns and the effect the drawdowns have on these resources. Hopefully these and other studies will help us in our quest to get equal treatment at all of the reservoirs. The biggest hurdle will be for everyone to understand that equality has to consider the unique qualities of each reservoir. Unfortunately the measure of equality being used during the execution of this study is to pull both reservoirs down the exact same amount, 15 to 20 feet. High Rock Lake and Badin Lake both hold similar amounts of water but that is where the similarities end. The average depth at High Rock is about 16 feet. The average depth at Badin is about 43 feet. Considering a 10 to 15 foot drawdown (62% to 94% of the average depth) reasonable at High Rock would mean you would have to consider a 26 to 40 foot drawdown reasonable at Badin. If you consider a 10 to 15 foot drawdown (23% to 35% of the average depth) reasonable at Badin then a 4 to 6 foot drawdown at High Rock should be considered equal based on the unique qualities of each lake. Hopefully we can get those in control of our natural resources to understand the concept of equality based on uniqueness and deal with each reservoir based on its unique qualities. Somewhere there must be a common ground that everyone considers a reasonable way to determine what the limits should be. Ultimately, the decisions SHOULD be based equally on the impact to the environment, fish and wildlife, recreation and the impact on power generation as stated in the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986. We feel that our goals of operating all of the lakes within a 4 foot range, a detailed Drought Contingency plan containing proportional drawdowns at all of the reservoirs and limiting drawdowns to no more than 50% or less of the average depth of any of the lakes provides equal and reasonable consideration of all of those areas.
With High Rock down more than 12 feet, boating safety is a MAJOR concern. Many areas of the lake that still have some water are definitely too shallow to be safely navigated and are filled with unmarked hazards just below the surface. A wide body of water can be very deceptive with 90% of it being very hazardous and only the actual creek channel being deep enough to navigate without risking major damage to your boat or motor. BE CAREFUL!! Several of the ramps are already unusable. If the lake is drawn down 15 to 20 feet as Alcoa representatives have stated they plan to do, the only ramp that MAY still be usable will be the Highway 8 landing at Southmont. If we can get the information from Alcoa, we will post ramp closings on our High Rock Info page as they happen.
January 10, 2004
Welcome to "Winter Drawdown" at High Rock Lake. The streamflow in the Yadkin River has returned to a more normal level, it has turned really cold and High Rock lake is down about 10 feet. We asked Alcoa about their plans for High Rock this winter and they said we should expect a typical winter drawdown of about 12 to 15 feet. While the lake is down, they will be performing the exact same type of studies that were done at Badin Lake during December. It would sure be nice if they would extend the same courtesy to the thousands of property owners at High Rock that they do to the ones at Badin and notify them of exactly when they intend to begin drawing the lake down. Many High Rock residents like to keep their boats in the water as long as possible to take advantage of the warm days like we had at the first of January but have their boats stored for the winter during the drawdown period. Unfortunately, without at least two weeks notice before the drawdown begins it is often impossible for local boat dealers to get all of the boats out of the water, winterized, shrink wrapped and stored before they wind up sitting on the dry lake bottom. Once they are sitting on the ground, the only way to get them out is to drive out onto the lake bed and get them which we all know is prohibited by Alcoa. A simple notice on their web site would be adequate to get the word out and would cost them nothing but historically they have refused to publicly announce when they intended to begin the winter drawdown.
Hopefully the recreational use studies will help minimize future winter drawdowns. There were over 60 trucks and trailers in the parking lot of the Highway 8 landing on Saturday, January 3rd. Add that to the usage of the other landings and full time residents and that puts hundreds of people on the water. This shows definitively that all we need is decent weather and adequate water for the public to enjoy the rights they were guaranteed by the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986 on a year round basis, not just during what Alcoa wants to call the "defined recreational season".
If you are an avid fisherman, the Bass and Saltwater Fishing Expo will be at the Greensboro Coliseum next weekend. We will be there making sure as many sportsmen as possible have signed up to be counted. Come by and say "Hi" while you are there!!