Our Email Message to NCDENR

I am disappointed with the NCDENR announcement that they would not be providing updates or projections any more and is apparently entrusting the management of our natural resources back to those who announced they would be draining our lake during the middle of a drought. I realize that we have had quite a bit of rain since Sept. 1st and that has helped the situation tremendously but with above average rains we are barely teetering near normal river flows and it would take only a very short period without rain for flows to drop drastically below average again. Unless conditions are reacted to quickly we could find ourselves back in trouble. Without some incentive to hold levels up at High Rock the lake will most likely be lowered to about -10 feet soon (normal power generation management for this time of year ) and there will be very little margin for error at that point. I would have thought that everyone learned from this summer that having storage available in High Rock was vitally important to the rest of the river basin. If you don't have available capacity stored in the headwater areas, you can't react to problems as they arise downstream. Your last Projection stated that the Protocol was not over but we would be returning to Normal Power Generation. This raises several questions.

Since there are apparently no realistic limits in the license for this time of year to prevent them from drawing the lake down drastically low again, are there some guidelines NCDENR will be using while they are closely monitoring the situation?

Based on the terms of the variance granted, does NCDENR have the authority to intervene again once they have stepped out of the picture and turned control back over to APGI and CP&L?

At what point would NCDENR be expected to intervene again?

At what point is the Protocol over? Severe drought? Abnormally Dry? March 15th ?

Are the draw down schedules of the protocol still in effect?

Will equitable draw downs for all of the lakes still be used or are we back to keeping everything other than High Rock full and pulling it down based on the old schedules?

Will any of us have any warning about what is planned? I’d like to at least know when it's time to get my boat out of the water. Even though APGI may not consider this part of the recreational season, there are apparently MANY of us who believe otherwise as boating activity has been very high recently with most of the public landings being very busy on the weekends.

Since you guys are not actively arbitrating management of the watershed any more do we still have to wait until Fridays to get a reply to questions that are asked? Since the public is being kept in the dark again I would expect complaints and questions to increase but at this time the volume of questions seems to have fallen off dramatically and would not seem to warrant that policy any longer. As I have said many times, “as long as we know the facts we can deal with them” but being uninformed fosters nothing but rumors and fears.

NCDENR's Response

The current drought protocol is over when the drought emergency has passed or March 6th, whichever comes first. The drought is not over, there are still a number of communities in the basin that are on mandatory and voluntary water restrictions. However, the streamflows and reservoir levels have improved such that reservoir management no longer needs to be in drought management mode of operation. All the current forecasts show that we can expect above normal precipitation between now and next April. With this forecast, the all the reservoirs should have no problem remaining well above the protocol's drawdown limits. The limits were based on the drought conditions continuing to worsen after September 15th. Luckily for everyone, conditions improved instead of worsening. If the forecasts are wrong and we have a dry winter the protocol is still in effect until March 6th and we can go back to a drought mode of operation.

The reason NCDENR is no longer providing weekly reservoir projections is we are no longer having weekly conference phone calls. As long as conditions remain such that a normal mode operation can occur, monthly conference calls are more practical. We have requested both companies to consider posting on their websites weekly projections. As of last week, they are considering it, but based on the conservation I doubt either one will do it.

I want to assure you NCDENR is continuing to monitor the Yadkin on a regular basis and keeping the lines of communication open with all parties. Hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate and the NC will not need to intervene again after March 6th. However if the drought continues next summer, the decision to intervene will be based current and projected conditions along with the evaluation of other relevant factors.