2003 News Archive

December 20, 2003

It appears I may have "cried Wolf" about the speed we will reach winter drawdown.  Mother Nature seems to be providing us with abundant stream flow in the Yadkin River for this time of year.  At the current refill rate, it appears we may remain at or near full for a while.  Keep your eye on the Lake Info page for lake levels, floating trash levels, water clarity and events happening around High Rock Lake.

December 16, 2003

I went to Badin Lake on Saturday and took quite a few pictures that I will try to get posted in the next week or so.  The sight was VERY different from seeing High Rock down 16 feet.  While there was considerable lake bottom exposed, it was amazing how much navigable (even deep) water remained. The shoreline drops off into reasonably deep water pretty quickly in a large portion of the lake so the water was not too far away from the piers in many areas that still had water.  Some of the stationary piers with covered boat slips and 20 foot posts at the end were a strange site, especially the ones with boats hanging 25 feet up in the air.  

If you live at High Rock Lake, the WOOSH sound you may be hearing today is the water rushing out from under your pier and boat.  The IAG studies at Badin Lake are complete so the refill of Badin Lake and the winter drawdown of High Rock begins today.  I would suggest you position your boat however you would like for it to be when it sits down on the ground or be prepared to take it out on very short notice.  To refill Badin Lake should only take a little over 5 feet of water from High Rock Lake but I wouldn't put any money on the drawdown stopping there.  I'm guessing High Rock will drop 24 hours a day every day until Badin is full again.  

Be sure and check out the new Home Page!!

December 13, 2003

Thanks to the High Rock Lake River Rats Inc. 10 families and 195 children will have a much merrier Christmas this year.  Their hard work and dedication to the children of Davidson County is phenomenal.  This year they raised nearly $20,000 and on Wednesday night they gave $500 to Project Santa and the rest went to make Christmas a joyous time for the families and children in need.  

On Friday evening 18 adventurous lake lovers braved the cold and participated in the First Annual High Rock Lake Christmas Boat parade in Abbotts Creek.  None of us had done this type of thing before and it was a real learning experience.  One boat died shortly after we started and two others had intermittent lighting problems.  At the end of the evening we only had one boat that had enough juice left in it's battery to start the boat.  Even though we only wound up with 3 boats participating, the 18 of us on them had a BLAST and lots of residents came out and cheered us on!!  All we need is water at Christmas time next year (and maybe a little warmer weather) to capitalize on what we learned this year to make the next parade bigger and better than ever.

December 5, 2003

This Sunday the High Rock Lake River Rats Inc. will hold their Annual Christmas Benefit Fund Raiser at the Boat Dock Beach Club.  You need to make plans to attend.  There will be food, a live auction, a silent auction, Liquor basket raffle, Half and Half drawing, lucky draw table and much more.  100% of the funds raised at this event will be combined with the proceeds from the Thanksgiving Bash and used to buy Christmas presents for southern Davidson County residents who have fallen on hard times.  Last year the River Rats raised $16,274 dollars and made sure 10 families and 194 children had a merry Christmas as well as donating $500 to Project Santa.  With all of the plant closings and layoffs around here this year, the number of requests for assistance is expected be very high.  Come, have a LARGE time, be VERY generous and help the River Rats load Santa's Sleigh for the less fortunate children of our community.  

November 26, 2003

It has been brought to my attention that I made a little mathematical error when I reported on November 6th that the FERC license administration fee was approximately 50 cents per KWH.  After rechecking the figures on the document I used to determine the fee, it appears it was a pretty BIG mathematical error.  It seems that the real number is more like $0.0006 ( thats 6 one hundredths of one cent) per KWH.  This works out to about $750,000 for the period from Sept. 2002 thru Sept. 2003.  I guess it's just hard for the average guy to juggle the really big numbers common in the power industry at a glance.  I'll try to be a little more careful in the future.

If you haven't noticed, the Badin drawdown has begun.  Alcoa is planning to draw Badin down as much as 6.6 feet by December 1st.  This is the maximum allowed by the terms in the current license while High Rock is still relatively full.  Once the anticipated license variance is granted by the FERC, they will proceed to draw Badin down as much as 15 to 20 feet to complete the relicensing studies necessary.  Needless to say, by December 1st there will probably not be a usable boat ramp at Badin Lake.  I'm sure many there will take the opportunity to make pier and boat ramp repairs since they almost never get the chance to do so.  I hope the NCWRC is also taking the opportunity to repair and extend the ramps at the Wildlife landings so they will be usable at water levels other than full pond.  I would expect (speculate) that High Rock will rise during the first week in December while Badin is being pulled down and stay relatively high while the studies are being done and then plummet pretty quickly when the refill of Badin Lake begins.  Needless to say, residents at both lakes need to watch the water levels pretty closely during December to protect their watercrafts.  I'm sure there are many who will want to see and photograph Badin Lake when it is drawn down.  If you somehow manage to go boating at Badin while it is drawn down, be VERY careful since few folks would have any clue where the boating hazards are when the lake is 20 feet down and there's little chance anyone will be out riding around that could help you. 

With the unusual water levels we have experienced this year, many residents have decided to do something special, just because we can.  There is a Christmas Flotilla planned in Abbotts Creek on December 12th.  Anyone wishing to decorate their boat and participate is more than welcome.  The current plan is to begin at "4 Balls" at the back of Abbotts Creek around 7 pm and parade out to the Highway 8 bridge.  We'll have to wait and see where the water levels are then to determine if we can continue on under the Highway 8 bridge.  I'll post more information a little closer to the 12th.

November 14, 2003

It seems no matter how much we try, we just can't get our Davidson or Rowan county officials to step up to the plate and get involved in the areas of relicensing where they COULD make a difference.  We have tried encouraging them, bluntly asking them, even shaming them into actively participating in the County Economic Impact IAG, yet they still weren't able to drag themselves to either of the two meetings held this year.  We even double checked to make sure they were on the mailing lists used to announce the dates and times for the meetings.  I guess they have been told there was nothing they could do for so many years they have come to believe it.  Hopefully the recently announced "Recreation and Tourism Master Plan" will open their eyes and the light bulb will come on before it is too late.  Once the plan is actually formulated by the "experts", can you imagine them finding a bigger recreation or tourism asset in Davidson County than High Rock Lake?  How much "vision" would it take to figure out that a well designed county park with lake access could attract lots of tourists.  With some simple amenities such as a swimming area, picnic tables, fishing pier, boat ramp, camp ground with RV hookups, etc. etc. etc, tons of folks might visit and vacation in Davidson County.  Unfortunately, it appears there are very few tracts of land on the Davidson County side of the lake that would be suitable for something like that and the few that exist would only work if the lake were kept near full.  I'm sure the professionals could come up with many more upscale ideas than this but something as simple as that could be a great beginning.  A great economic development plan that centers around High Rock Lake recreation and tourism related businesses could go a long way toward convincing the FERC to give us some of that "equal consideration" the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986 states we should get.  It will be up to our elected county officials to plan, fund and implement the county infrastructure services necessary to allow upscale lakeside and lake area tourism businesses to grow and flourish as they have at MANY other hydroelectric impoundments.  I only hope the commissioners realize that if they wait until the Recreation and Tourism Master Plan is complete before they show up at a meeting to lobby for the things that could actually make it a success, it WILL be too late.  Every time you see one of our county commissioners, ask them when they plan to begin participating.  Ask them what they intend to do for Davidson County for the next 50 years if they miss this current window of opportunity to get changes made at High Rock Lake that would be beneficial to recreation and tourism.  Or maybe you might want to drop them an email and ask when they are thinking about doing something to protect the county tax revenues from the only property in Davidson County that is valued at over $100,000 per acre on the county tax books.  The following Davidson County commissioners have email addresses listed on the county web site:  Priscilla Hege, Cindy Akins, Don Truell, Max Walser and Sam Watford.  It might be more effective to write to the Tourism Development Partnership for Davidson County and encourage them to be sure our commissioners are doing everything that is necessary to allow THEM to succeed at increasing tourism in Davidson County.  

November 10, 2003

aah2b.jpg (16775 bytes) Check out this sign very closely.  Click on it and make it bigger so you can see it better.  Now, tell me what is wrong with it......  Give up yet?  As far as we are concerned, the only thing wrong with it is that it no longer exists.  We thought it would be a great community service project around the lake for our members to adopt a section of Highway 8 beginning at the Abbotts Creek bridge.  We applied to the program, completed all of the paperwork as instructed, scheduled our first pick-up day and the signs were erected.  Then things got really "interesting" and we eventually learned that "No good deed goes unpunished"!!

First, the Chairman of the Deacons of Mountain View Church complained that the sign distracted attention from the church's marquee sign and insisted that our sign be removed.  When the state offered to move it he said that was unacceptable and said if it was not removed he would "steal it himself".  Funny how for the next couple of weeks they used the theme "Adopt A Highway to Heaven" on their marquee.  Then the infinite wisdom of of the state and federal DOT offices kicked in.  They informed us that even though it was not mentioned anywhere in the instructions they sent us, we were not allowed to put our web site name on the signs.  Their contention was that this was somehow "advertising" and was not allowed even though it is perfectly acceptable to put the name of any business on the sign if they were to Adopt-A-Highway.  We offered to take the "www" off and just have our official name as defined in our by-laws.  They replied this was not acceptable since people familiar with the internet would "understand" that "SaveHighRockLake.org" MIGHT be a web site address.  We then offered to change it to "SaveHighRockLake Org" so that it could in no way be considered a web site address without the "dot" in it.  Once again the reply was this would still not be acceptable.  When asked what WOULD be acceptable since their rules indicated nothing other than business or group names was allowed, their reply was we would have to change the name of our organization if we wanted to participate in the program.  At this point we decided we had enough idiotic bureaucracy to deal with in relicensing and told the DOT officials to cancel our contract and take the signs down.  We'll dedicate our energy to things directly related to the lake such as "Clean Sweep" and let the good folks at the church worry about the trash along the road.

November and December promises to be a busy time for family and friends.  Be sure to occasionally check the EVENTS page to make sure you don't miss any of the fun things happening around the lake. 

 November 6, 2003

It's official, 2003 is already officially the wettest year ever recorded.  Thanks to Mother Nature, the Yadkin-Pee Dee watershed has been able to recover from the most severe drought ever recorded from 1999 through 2002.  After enjoying 12 months of WAY above average rainfall, the ground water supplies have been replenished and there are few remaining signs of the devastation that occurred at High Rock Lake last year.  Anyone who Crappie fishes at High Rock will tell you this year was probably the worst they can remember, but the Bass and Catfish seem to have survived fairly well.  The NC Wildlife Resources Commission doubled the stocking of Striped Bass this year and has done some fish studies to evaluate the impact of what happened in 2002, but they have not published the results yet.  Even Alcoa's bottom line should have recovered nicely this year.  Their recent filing with the FERC indicates they produced 1,255,242,140 KWH of electricity from 10/1/02 through 9/30/03.  This just might be a new record for them also but I don't know for sure since the records available to me on the FERC web site only go back 8 years.

The IAG meetings for relicensing have wound down for this year and will pick up again in February of 2004.  At this time almost every group is waiting for the completion of the studies defined by the groups and will reconvene when there is some meaningful information to begin discussing.

After about 18 months of dealing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and learning more than I ever wanted to know about Hydroelectric power regulations and the federal bureaucracy of the agencies involved, several things have become abundantly clear.  First, the goal of the FERC is to promote the production of as much power as possible at facilities under their control.  This is kind of self serving since the "license administration" fee they are paid by each licensee (approximately 50 cents per KWH at P-2197) is based on the amount of power the facility produces every year.  Lobbying for changes that would reduce this amount doesn't seem to be very popular with the licensee or FERC.  Second, when you file a request with the FERC, you must be VERY detailed and specific with your request.  If you don't know the exact regulations to cite you will most likely get nothing more than a cursory response with exactly NO details or information pertinent to your request.  Third, even if you DO file a request with VERY specific and detailed information, unless you enjoy some very special legal status, you will still probably not get anything that resembles a real examination of the facts or a response that specifically addresses the issues raised.  This seems to be the case with the request we filed in July concerning the famous "Rule Curve" and the Headwater Benefits Amendments that were approved in 1968.  After reading the specifics of the issues we raised in our FERC FILING and the subsequent RESPONSE from FERC, I think you will understand what I mean.  There was almost NOTHING in the reply from the FERC that was responsive to the issues we raised.  Their statement at the end indicates we were asking for something that would require them to "re-open the license to revise Operating Guides and the 1926 headwater benefits agreement".  This would seem to imply the questions we asked were valid, otherwise they would have simply told us we were wrong and closed the matter.  Unfortunately, since the relicensing process has already begun, it appears they will not waste their time addressing these issues.  They simply advised us to participate in relicensing and raise these issues there.  We ARE and we WILL!!!!  Lastly, we have learned that as with all thing concerning governmental agencies, nothing ever happens quickly, easily or even reasonably.  Especially if you don't have a legal degree or substantial political influence.

October 24, 2003

I would like to offer the condolences of everyone on the Board of SaveHighRockLake.org to the family and friends of Harry Hicks, one of our dedicated Board Members. Harry's father, Harry Hughes Hicks passed away Thursday, October 23, 2003. The family will be accepting friends at Hayworth-Miller funeral home on Silas Creek Parkway in Winston Salem on Friday evening from 7 to 9. The funeral service will be held on Saturday at 11 am. The family requests that memorials be made to Ardmore United Methodist Church, 630 S. Hawthorne Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27103 or to Hospice and Palliative Care Center, 1100-C S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27103.

If you haven't noticed, it appears we are on our way to winter drawdown. No one at Alcoa will offer up a schedule but we are dropping about 8 to 10 inched per week. It is only my own personal speculation, but I THINK we may drop to about 5 feet and hold there for a while. There are relicensing studies that are supposed to be done at a 5 foot drawdown and then another set of studies to be done at a 10 foot drawdonw. There is also a 15 to 20 foot drawdown of Badin lake scheduled for December to document the impacts of a significant drawdown there. These are all part of studies being done to determine the feasibility of proportional lake drawdowns in the event of future severe droughts. The logical process would be to draw down High Rock 5 feet and perform the necessary studies there. Draw Badin down in December and complete the studies there, and then continue the drawdown of High Rock to 10 feet while refilling Badin in late December. Once again, this is only speculation! 

Thanks to Patrick and Walt from Normandeau Associates for allowing me to accompany them while they performed their duties of documenting the existence and location of aquatic vegetation at High Rock Lake on Wednesday. We located about 8 to 10 small to medium size beds of the ever precious Water Willow that emerged after only one year of relatively stable water levels. We also found numerous areas of Black Willow and Ludwigia peploides (floating primrose-willow). This was just what was found in Abbotts Creek in about 5 hours of time. Unfortunately most of the Water Willow is already dying with the water levels receding, but we have documented that beneficial aquatic vegetation will return to High Rock Lake reasonably quickly, given the right conditions.

This weekend Lexington is holding their annual Barbecue Festival and it just might be the peak weekend for enjoying the changing tree colors around the lake also. The colors haven't been very brilliant so far, but the view of High Rock Mountain from the main body of the lake and Flat Swamp Creek can still be quite lovely. A leisurely boat ride and picnic around the lake enjoying the fall colors is much more fun and relaxing than spending hours stuck in traffic in your car to go to the mountains. 

Don't forget, you can keep up with everything you ever wanted to know about lake levels and weather conditions/forecasts at High Rock Lake on our new High Rock Info page.  We are constantly adding new items to the page to improve it's value to you.  We recently added lake area maps and will soon add a map with all boat landings and marina locations.  We also added marina phone numbers and hours so you can be sure they will be open when you need gas.  Drop an email to WEBMASTER if you think of anything else you would like to see added to the page.

It was pointed out to me that some of our Resident Use Surveys may not get returned simply because the envelope they come in may appear to be junk mail.  The survey will come in a very plain envelope and the return address will be "ERM Inc.".  There is no reference to Alcoa or the lake on the outside of the envelope, so be sure to open it before you throw it away thinking it is junk mail.  We need to increase our return rate!  Talk to your friends and neighbors AGAIN and encourage them to send it in.

October 6, 2003

Many thanks to David Pettigrew, a web site developer who happens to live on Swearing Creek, for sharing his talents and allowing us to bring you what I expect to become the most "bookmarked" page on our web site. The High Rock Lake Info page is your one stop source for the information most people want to know about the lake. This new page contains current lake level information, the current weather conditions, 5 day weather forecast and our events page information. We will soon be adding fishing tournaments scheduled at High Rock and information concerning any of the public access areas that may be closed for repairs.  As near as we can tell, this would allow anyone living at or planning to come to the lake to find all of the most requested information in one spot. Check it out, add it to your "favorites" list and drop us an email if you think of something else you would like to see there.

We've always heard that "Charity begins at Home" and our home just happens to be at High Rock Lake.  The High Rock Lake River Rats is a certified charitable organization based at High Rock Lake.  Every year they give over $30,000 back to those in our community who have fallen on hard times.  They have sponsored the Fireworks in Abbotts Creek for many years, organized the Big Sweep efforts at High Rock Lake, and made sure that hundreds of children in our community got presents at Christmas.  They could use your help and it won't cost you but five minutes of your time.  Food Lion will donate a percentage of what you spend to the River Rats every time you use your "MVP" card. All you have to do is register your "MVP" card(s) and link it to the River Rats.  Check out the information on the River Rats web site for all of the details.

UNC-TV will be airing UNCW's new educational documentary, "Troubled Waters: The Illusion of Abundance," on Wednesday evening at 8:00 pm focusing on what it calls a global, national and statewide water crisis.  "Most people need to see something that means something to them to understand the concept of water scarcity," said Barbie Cowan, research coordinator in the Office of Special Projects at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  Because of that, High Rock figures prominently in UNCW's new educational documentary which contains footage at High Rock Lake from 2002 and includes several local residents and visitors.

I haven't nagged much lately about the Resident Use surveys and the number of surveys being returned reflects it. At last report, the average return rates from High Rock Lake for July and August were only about 40 percent, while Badin is averaging between 50 and 60 percent every month. Demonstrating the need to protect the recreational opportunities at High Rock is the only way we will be able to get changes made during relicensing and YOU GUYS are the only ones who can supply the information we need to make that happen!!!  Please send your surveys in and make sure all of your friends and neighbors do so.  We have many more months of surveying to do and it is VERY important that we have as much data to work with as possible.

September 26, 2003

Alcoa issued a PRESS RELEASE today announcing they will be seeking a license variance that will allow them to draw down Badin Lake 15 to 20 feet this December.  This is one of the first activities of relicensing that is highly visible to the general public.  The study is needed to determine the effects of low water levels on aquatic habitats in the drawdown zones of the reservoirs.  This will help determine how some of the water stored in Badin can be used to help offset drawdowns at High Rock when necessary.  This would be just one of the many studies necessary in developing watershed management guidelines to protect all of the lakes as much as possible during our next drought.  Badin is a very deep lake compared to High Rock and hopefully this will prove that drawdowns of this magnitude will have minimal impact on the environment compared to drawing High Rock down to the extreme levels that occurred last year.  If we can develop a good enough management plan for the whole river basin, hopefully drawdowns of this magnitude will never have to happen again but it is necessary to know the limits of each of the reservoirs to make good informed decisions. 

If you haven't looked lately, you should check out our RELICENSING page.  The number of studies and surveys defined should give you a clue at just how involved the relicensing process is.  Keep in mind that many of the studies in the different IAG's are intertwined with each other and all of them collectively will determine the ultimate outcome of the relicensing process.  This is the most complete source of relicensing information available to the public and is almost always updated well before the official Alcoa site.

September 22, 2003

If you participated in Big Sweep on Saturday, you are to be commended.  Many will take the time to complain about things but few will actually take the time to do something about it.  If you were one of the over 300 cleaning up High Rock Lake, you have my personal thanks and admiration.  Just in case you were wondering, there was 15,555 pounds of trash picked up in Davidson County.  Of that total, over 74% of it came from High Rock Lake.  That's a tremendous accomplishment considering how much is involved in organizing the transportation of people out into the areas of the lake with the most trash and getting those people and the 11,555 pounds of trash they picked up back to the dumpsters.  My compliments to the High Rock Lake River Rats and everyone who volunteered their time, their energy, their boats and their services to make the day a success.  The fact that over74% of the trash collected in the entire county came from just a couple of miles of shoreline at High Rock Lake emphasizes the need for all of us to be a part of the solution on a continuing basis, not just one day a year.  Hope to see you and an additional 300+ next year on the third Saturday in September.  You might want to check out the Big Sweep Pictures on the River Rats web site.

While we're on community service, don't forget about our Adopt-A-Highway cleanup coming on November 15th.  Watch the Events page for details and easy online registration.

Finally, we'd like to welcome the 759 new members who joined us at our booth at the Rowan County Fair.  With the lake being full and lots of rain, many of them asked lots of questions before they joined us.  Like much of the general public, many of them just assumed things were better now and did not fully understand what we are all about.  If nothing else, we are still educating as many people as possible about the realities of Hydropower relicensing and the need to make changes now or live at Alcoa's mercy for another 50 years.   

September 15, 2003

Big Sweep is coming (hopefully without Hurricane Isabel) and time is running out to get registered and to volunteer your boat.  A half a day of community service can give you a great amount of personal satisfaction.  If you are volunteering your boat, you might want to come to the River Rats meeting this Thursday, 7:30 at the Boat Dock Beach Club.  Boats will be wrapped in plastic at the Boat Dock on Thursday and Friday from 5:30 to 8:30.  Alcoa has been working with the River Rats and hopes to have the water down between 3 and 5 feet on Saturday if we don't get a big rainfall compliments of Isabel.  If all goes well we will be able to get boats to all locations and have to contend with a minimum amount of mud along the shoreline.  ONLINE REGISTRATION is the preferred way sign up and be sure to download the Release Form and bring it with you on Saturday morning.

The 2nd Annual Ray Swing Memorial Golf Tournament is being held on Sept. 27th.  All proceeds will go to Brain Tumor Research at Wake Forest Medical Center.  Check the EVENTS page for more information.

Don't forget to send in your Resident Use Survey for August if you got yours this month.  If you want to know when you will get your survey, you can look it up on our RELICENSING page.

September 5, 2003

The FERC REVIEW of the operating guidelines for High Rock Lake is done!!  The High Rock Lake Association worked very hard to instigate a clarification of the rules used to manage High Rock Lake.  The HRLA request opened the door but was not very specific so we subsequently submitted a lengthy analysis of issues with very specific questions that needed clarification concerning the Rule Curve and the approved Headwater Benefits agreement.   In order to provide a clear and concise clarification for all parties concerned, we felt these questions HAD to be addressed.  In an amazing display of intense scrutiny of ALL of the facts necessary to properly address all of the issues raised, FERC DIDN'T DO SQUAT.  They completely ignored (without even mentioning them) every issue that had been raised, and did little more than review the lake levels during the summers of the past 23 years. They chose to completely ignore the rights of the taxpaying public and completely avoided every other question posed to them.  Their final insult to the public at large was to point out that the recreation season was almost over and High Rock Lake was full due to generous amounts of rain. They suggested HRLA should raise their concerns in the relicensing process. THANKS FOR NOTHING!!  Do we need any more proof that leaving relicensing decisions up to the geniuses at FERC will get us 50 more years of total disregard for the rights of anyone but those of the power industry. I guess FERC is reluctant to bite the hand that sends them lots of money every year to "administer" the license of Project 2197.  We will be talking to the FERC compliance lawyers on Monday to find out exactly which type of filing will require FERC to address our questions and we will file them again.  We don't give up quite that easily.

We still need volunteers to work in our booth at the Rowan County Fair on Saturday Sept. 20th.  Many of us will be participating in Big Sweep that day and won't be able to work at the fair that day handing out information about SaveHighRockLake.org and signing up new members.  If you can work on Saturday, please contact Susie as soon as possible.

Speaking of Big Sweep, we still need volunteers to help us remove tons of trash from High Rock Lake.  W we still need MANY more pontoon boats to make the day a success.  If you believe in giving something back to the things you love most, sign up now using our convenient ONLINE REGISTRATION

September 1, 2003

ONLINE REGISTRATION for Big Sweep is now available.  If you plan to come out and help clean up our FAVORITE place, register now and make check in on Saturday Sept. 20th quicker and easier.  

Congratulations are in order for two of our Directors.  First to Dr. John Ellington for coaching his girls AAU basketball team to their third consecutive National Championship.  Three years in a row as National Champions is a feat very few people will ever realize.  Second, congratulations to Mary Beth Nelson and her husband Greg on the birth of their first son.  Luke Samuel Nelson was born on August 27th and weighed in at 8 pounds 6 ounces.  

It appears to be taking the FERC longer to complete their Administrative Review of the Operating Guidelines for High Rock Lake than they originally planned.  Their initial response to Congressman Coble's office stated they should have the review completed by mid August.  At this time they seem to still be working on it.  Maybe we raised enough questions in our last filing with them to make them take a longer and harder look at the whole situation before releasing their final ruling.  At least they know that lots of us are actively watching what happens here and understand we won't be easily fooled without asking LOTS more questions.  We'll let you know the minute they release their final decisions.


August 25, 2003

We heard from Alcoa today about our request to make the bridge beams and pilings more visible to help avoid accidents and injuries.  It seemed like a pretty simple idea and every industry in the world has become highly aware of their responsibilities under OSHA regulations to adequately mark potential hazards.  It appears that NC DOT now feels that water safety is the responsibility of NCWRC but is willing to provide highly reflective paints if Alcoa will actually do the painting for them.  Alcoa has told them that was fine and I guess we just have to wait for paint and scheduling now.  It appears that the Winston Salem South Bound Railroad is not quite so interested in your safety and feels like they have no responsibility to help us out.  At this time it doesn't even appear they would allow their bridges to be marked in any way even if someone else supplies the paint.  I guess they are only concerned about public safety if one of their trains could  actually be involved or damaged.  We're still waiting to hear back from the NCWRC about lighted buoys or navigational markers at the bridges to make locating them easier at night.  The NCWRC appears to be the agency everyone considers responsible for any form of water safety and the ultimate decision maker concerning navigation/warning markers.  To date, I am personally aware of at least 5 incidents this year involving the bridges, thankfully only one of the accidents involved personal injuries.  Please remain aware that with the lake levels near full pond the clearance under the bridges can be very low and extreme caution needs to be exercised when attempting to go under them.

We have updated our EVENTS page with the pre-registration form for BIG SWEEP.  If you plan to come out and help us clean up our favorite lake, download the form, fill it out and send it in as instructed on the form.  We still need MANY boats to help make BIG SWEEP a success.  If you have a pontoon boat and think that giving about a half a day of community service is not asking too much, donate yourself and your boat "For the Sake of the Lake".

August 13, 2003  

You asked for it and we got the mailing schedule for the Resident Use Surveys for you.  We asked David Blaha of ERM and Jody Cason of Long View Associates if they could give us their schedule for mailing out the Resident Use Surveys to High Rock Lake residents in some format that would preserve your privacy and still give you a way to determine when you could expect to receive your survey.  They came up with a list that is based on your Pier Permit number.  This gives you an easy way to determine when your survey will be mailed out without listing your name and address on the internet for the world to see.  Check out the listings in the Aesthetics, Recreation and Shoreline Management section on the Project 2197 RELICENSING page.

August 11, 2003  

We just got an update on the return rate of the Resident Use surveys being sent out by ERM.  It appears our nagging is starting to pay off.  The return rate for the June surveys was 54% from High Rock residents and 53% from Badin residents.  This is a 19% increase from High Rock and is exactly what we need.  ERM says that anything above 50% is an excellent return rate but be sure you continue to talk it up with your neighbors.  We can't have too much data, and the higher the return rate, the more accurate the statistics will be.

If you missed our Quarterly Meeting and Birthday Party on Friday night, you missed out on some interesting information, a chance to ask questions about relicensing and an opportunity to have some fun!!  For those of you who didn’t make it, here’s a quick recap of what we went over.  

We have adopted 2.2 miles of Highway 8 beginning at Shaw’s Bait and Tackle Shop and ending at Mountain View Church Rd.  We will have our first clean up on November 15th, followed by a cookout for those who come to help.  

We are working on plans for our own Bass Tournament next spring.  Tentative plans are to hold the tournament on April 24th.  

We will be holding our next membership drive at the Rowan County Fair.  The Fair runs from September 15th through the 20th and we will need some volunteers to help work the booth.  If you can volunteer a little time and help us reach some new members in Rowan County , contact Susie@SaveHighRockLake.org and let her know when you would be available.  

The High Rock Lake River Rats are sponsoring Big Sweep again this year on September 20th and we would like to see as many of you as possible come out and help clean up OUR lake.  Last year the event had to be cancelled due to lack of water, and this year may present a new challenge of getting pontoon boats under the Highway 8 bridge.  We would like to have 40 pontoon boats participating and at this time we have about 15 pledged.  Unfortunately most of them are from Abbotts Creek and may not be able to get under the bridge if the water stays up.  We’re working on a plan to trailer some around if necessary but many of them don’t own trailers.  If you are willing to donate your pontoon boat ( especially if you live on the river side of the Highway 8 bridge ) please contact Rusty@SaveHighRockLake.org.  Your pontoon boat will be completely wrapped in plastic before beginning and will be pressure washed and cleaned after the event is over.  We can even provide competent drivers if you are unable to be there yourself.  There has been an enormous amount of trash washing down the river and the creeks this year and the River Rats will need all of the help we can muster up.  If you love High Rock Lake as much as you say you do, lets put our bodies where our mouths are and be part of the solution to High Rock Lake pollution.

We have been working with Alcoa, NCDOT and WSSB RR to improve the visibility of the bridge pilings and overhead beams to make your recreational experience at High Rock Lake a little safer.  At this time it appears they will be working together to paint the pilings and beams with highly reflective paint to improve their visibility at night and reduce the risk of someone hitting their head on the VERY LOW bridges.  Alcoa is still trying to get in contact with someone at NCWRC to explore the possibility of placing lighted “No Wake” or navigational markers of some type at the bridges to make them easier to locate at night.  

We also gave the following recap of our activities for the last year to build our membership and represent YOU in the relicensing of High Rock Lake .  

FERC Filings – 8 Comments, 2 Motions to Intervene.

Encouraged the formation of the High Rock Lake Coalition, combining our efforts with the High Rock Lake Association, the Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake and the High Rock Lake Business group.

Membership Drives - 6

·        Davidson County Fair - 3256 new members

·        BBQ Festival – 729 new members

·        High Rock Lake Coalition Rally at Tamarac Marina -53 new members

·        Central Carolina Boat Show - 220 new members

·        Everybody’s day – Thomasville – 1353 new members

·        Fishing Expo - 910 new members

Spring Kick Off Party/Fund Raiser - $3952 raised

Summer Blast Fishing Tournament - $300 donated by the National Bass Circuit

Bridge Markings – APGI/NCDOT/WSSB RR  

In addition to the activities above, we set up and maintained the MOST informative web site there is pertaining to High Rock Lake and the relicensing of FERC Project 2197.  We shared the following statistics from the web site with those at the meeting.  

  1. Posted links to over 60 FERC submissions pertaining to High Rock Lake .
  2. Posted many links to newspaper articles and environmental information pertaining to the Yadkin River and High Rock Lake .
  3. Maintained Meetings and Events Pages.
  4. Posted news items an average of once every 5 days, providing you with the most current information about High Rock Lake , often unavailable anywhere else.
  5. Web Site Stats since August 1, 2002

·        averaged 3844 visitors per month / 6870 peak

·        averaged 7315 page views per month

·        averaged 30,091 hits per month / 41,665 peak

Origin of interesting visitors - # of visits

·        state.nc.us – 161

·        reuters.com – 83

·        Ferc.gov – 50

·        Salisbury.nc.us – 30

·        Rowan.nc.us – 30

·        charlotteobserver.com – 22  

The Web Site gives us the ability to get information into your hands quickly and the list of interesting visitors above demonstrates we are not the only people looking at our site.  While we have had visitors from all over the world, the short list above shows that what is going on here is being watched by people from several important organizations.

Finally, we got around to having a little fun and celebrating our first year of representing you guys.  We enjoyed dancing to the music of DJ Gene Briles and socializing with about 75 other folks who love High Rock Lake .  Congratulations to Frankie Byrd of Uwharrie Realty who won $160 in our Half and Half Drawing.  Frankie has been one of our sponsors from day one and she kept up her tradition of supporting us by immediately turning around and donating her winnings back to us.  Thanks Frankie, it’s great people like you who make our efforts worthwhile.  

August 6, 2003

Make your plans for Friday night so you can be at the Boat Dock Beach Club by 8 pm and attend our Quarterly meeting.  As soon as the meeting is over we'll be having a little fun.  Who says you can't mix business with pleasure.  You know you haven't been out dancing and socializing in quite a while and it will do you a world of good to get out of the house.  Sometimes you just need someone to prompt you to go out and enjoy yourself, so come out and enjoy little fellowship with some old friends and meet some new ones who all share a common interest.  We ALL love High Rock Lake and want to make sure it is well cared for during the next 50 years.  You'll find details and directions on the MEETINGS page.

July 29, 2003

Just a reminder to attend the Relicensing Public Meeting most convenient to you on Wednesday or Thursday and make your plans now to attend the SaveHighRockLake.org Public Meeting and BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION on Friday, August 8th.  Details and directions are on the MEETINGS page

We will be sending our latest FERC filing in tomorrow supporting the Administrative Review requested by the High Rock Lake Association in June.  With any luck, we asked enough specific questions and pointed out enough questionable issues to encourage the FERC to do a very complete review of the "Operating Guidelines" used to manage High Rock Lake.  

July 25, 2003

Based on the number of questions I received after my plea to High Rock property owners to help us out, maybe I need to explain the Resident Use surveys in more detail. The first ones were sent out in June asking about your usage of the lakes in May.  In July another 11% will get one asking about your use in June.  This will be repeated every month until November, each month going to a new 11% of the property owners.  The winter months will be lumped together and the next surveys will go out in March of 2004 to 12% of the property owners asking about their activities at the lake from November through February.  In April and May they will go back to the monthly mailings to 11% of the property owners again.  This should give us surveys from 88% of the property owners for the months of March through October and then the remaining 12% over the winter months.  The statisticians claim these percentages will give us a reasonably good idea of resident use of the lakes for the entire year.  There is no way at this time for us to know which month you will get your survey.  We have asked again for some way for you to find out if you wish, but have not gotten a response back yet.  Our goal is simply to make sure everyone understands it is IMPORTANT that the surveys are sent back in and to encourage you to talk to your neighbors who may not have access to our web site to send theirs in when they get it.

On July 26th, SaveHighRockLake.org will celebrate our FIRST BIRTHDAY.  This is the date we had our start up meeting at Yarboroughs Restaurant and through the generosity of many fine people we were able to raise enough money to set up our web site.  On August 12th we posted the first of hundreds of news tid bits to keep you informed about the events occurring here at High Rock Lake.  In honor of our first year of actively working for you and the good of High Rock Lake, we are changing the date, time and location of our quarterly meeting in August to Friday, August 8th, 8:00 pm at The Boat Dock Beach Club and having a BIRTHDAY PARTY after the meeting.  The details and directions are on the meeting page.

Don't forget about the Public Meetings concerning relicensing that will be happening next week.  They're on the meeting page as well.

July 21, 2003

I know that the lakes are full, river flow is up and everyone is trying their best to forget the events of last year.  Please don't let your guard down just yet.  South Carolina officials certainly haven't forgotten about last year or stopped their planning for relicensing.  This ARTICLE was in the Florence SC online news on July 6 and gives you a hint of what they are planning if they don't like the outcome of the relicensing process. This is just a little reminder that we will eventually need funding for expert legal advice and/or consultants to work for our side.  If you are thoroughly enjoying the quality of your recreational outings at High Rock this year with the lake being full and the water clarity about as good as we have ever seen it, we are still gladly accepting donations at  PO Box 628, Southmont NC, 27351 to try and keep it that way.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a yearlong series of events, each month focusing on a different aspect of the Clean Water Act. July 2003 has been designated as Lakes Awareness Month!  Check out the details at http://www.epa.gov/owow/lakes/month/

You might also be interested in the REPORT from "Clean Water for North Carolina".  It is a pretty comprehensive accounting of the health and welfare of the Yadkin and Pee Dee rivers and who the major contributors are to water quality problems. 

In our ongoing efforts to ensure the overall quality of your recreational experiences at High Rock Lake, we contacted Alcoa with boating safety concerns about the overhead clearance of the bridges, and the possibility of improving the visibility of the overhead beams and pilings at night.  They consulted with the NC Dept. of Transportation and then asked us to contact the DOT as well as the railroad with our concerns.  The DOT seems genuinely concerned about helping with making sure the overhead beams are made more visible at night to reduce the possibility of accidental head injuries. They also entertained the idea of adding lighted navigation markers to the bridges/pilings to improve their visibility and to assist in locating the exact location of the bridges on very dark nights.  Anyone who has spent much time on the lake at night knows that the bridges as well as the entire roadway crossing the lake can sometimes completely disappear into the tree line shadows since they are not lighted in any way.  The shoreline lighting visible on the other side of the roadway can give a novice nighttime boater the impression they can safely proceed directly toward the lights only to discover (sometimes too late) there is a roadway crossing the lake between them and the lights they are seeing.  We'll give you an update as soon as we know what they may do, as well as the outcome of discussions with the railroad representatives.

Remember Water Willow?  The aquatic vegetation so important to the ecosystem as the "Premier" fish habitat that it warranted special protection in the Shoreline Management Plan.  WooHoo,  we've got it!!!  At least four beds of it have sprouted up in Abbotts Creek, proving that if there is adequate water available during the growing season, it will grow at High Rock Lake too.  If I can ever get under the Highway 8 bridge, I'll let you know if there is some on the river side.  I can only ASSUME that our Water Willow beds will be afforded the same level of protection as those at Badin Lake and any person, persons or company responsible for killing them (like by dewatering them) will be cited and appropriately fined!!  :-)

Thanks to Ron Melton for sending us something everybody just has to see.  It's the latest in "Big Sweep" lake cleaning technology.  Maybe we can convince APGI to purchase a TRASHCAT and help us with the ongoing task of removing trash and debris that washes down the river and settles at High Rock Lake.  After all, they do own the land beneath the water and derive more benefit from the lake than any of us who work hard to clean it up every year.  

July 17, 2003

Sorry for the long absence of updates but I badly needed a vacation and have been spending a lot of time getting information together for yet another FERC filing.  First an update of what's been happening the last couple of weeks.  

The relicensing IAG meetings are beginning to wind down a little.  There has been a lot of activity in the meetings to define, revise and formalize all of the studies necessary to ensure we have all of the needed data when it comes time to begin settlement negotiations a year or more from now.  We filed yet another request for additional details to be included in the Shoreline Management Plan comparisons.  This study will help us determine if the rules and restrictions in the SMP for Project 2197 are reasonable compared to other hydroelectric projects or not.  If there are major differences between the plans, then we may have grounds for requesting changes to the Project 2197 SMP.  Our goal is to make the SMP for Project 2197 no more restrictive than what has been approved by the FERC at similar hydroelectric projects in this part of the country.  Even if we don't necessarily like the outcome in all areas, we will know we are being treated fairly compared to most of the other projects in this area.  

The residential use recreation surveys have been sent out for the months of May and June.  These are being sent to approximately 11% of the people who own property around the project lakes each month.  The information gathered from these surveys will be combined with the surveys being conducted at the public access areas to determine how much each lake is used for recreation and ultimately the economic value of that recreational activity to the surrounding communities.  Needless to say, the more valuable recreation is to surrounding areas, the more likely we are to get project operations and especially "water level" considerations when the negotiations actually begin.  It is crucial to our cause that we are able to document as much recreational activity at High Rock Lake as possible since it IS the lake needing the most consideration.  As of July 9, the return rates from Badin lake for the May surveys was about 50% while only about 30% had been returned by High Rock property owners.  The number of surveys completed at the public access areas from Badin was 101 while only 90 had been completed at High Rock.  This effectively means that right now they have more data to document usage at Badin than High Rock.  This will NOT help us get concessions at High Rock.  There are many more homes at High Rock Lake (2688 private piers permits) than Badin Lake and more public access areas.  We need to have data to support our efforts.  If you have been sent a survey, FILL IT OUT AND SEND IT IN!!!!!  Talk to your neighbors and make sure they send in theirs when it is sent to them.  This is one of the things we can NOT help you with.  It is entirely up to YOU to be sure we have the data we desperately need to make things happen!!  Have I make myself perfectly clear?  We are spending hundreds of man hours working for you but WE MUST HAVE YOUR HELP ON THIS ONE!  Please take 30 minutes and help us succeed at making good things happen during relicensing.  

There will be another set of Public Meetings soon concerning the relicensing process and the progress being made.  Our understanding is that the format will be similar to the previous public meeting with a presentation followed by a chance to talk with representatives from the various areas of interest.  The tentative schedule is:  


Davie County   

7-10 pm   

Days Inn, Mocksville


Montgomery County

1-4 pm   

Montgomery Community College


Stanley County 

7-10 pm   

Stanley County Community College


Davidson County

1-4 pm 

Quality Inn, Lexington


Rowan County   

7-10 pm   

Holiday Inn, Salisbury

Trust me, we expressed our displeasure over the afternoon meetings but this is what had already been scheduled.  We'll work toward making them more accessible to everyone in the future by asking far in advance that they are all scheduled in the evenings.  

Thanks to Gene Ellis , the environmental manager for APGI. He was kind enough to bring me several documents pertaining to the Headwater Benefits Agreement between APGI and Progress Energy after he returned from vacation.  As reported earlier, HRLA has requested a clarification of the Operation Guidelines for Project 2197 and APGI has responded with their interpretation of the guidelines which states that the terms in the Headwater Benefits agreement must be combined with the Operation Guidelines in their license to understand their operating requirements.  So far, the most interesting information has been found in the original Headwater Benefits Agreement of 1928.  This is the agreement between Tallassee Power and Carolina Power and Light when High Rock Lake was built.  The document is filled with legal stuff pertaining to power transfers between the two companies as well as storage and use of energy (sometimes referred to as water storage) by both companies.  I have highlighted the interesting passages showing that in 1928 the agreement included the following wording.  "Whenever the flow into the High Rock Reservoir is less than 3600 cubic feet per second of time, then at such times, upon request of Carolina Company, Tallassee Company shall daily release from the Narrows Plant reservoir the amount of water per day so requested to be released, but in no event more than the equivalent of the daily flow into the high Rock Reservoir."  This sounds suspiciously like "run of river" operation any time inflow to High Rock drops below 3600 cfs.  There is also a clause that would allow them to deviate from the agreement in the event of many conditions, including drought.  It is also VERY interesting that this agreement was binding to the parties and their successors until December 31, 1967 and on January 8, 1968 Alcoa filed the request to modify their license to include the "new and improved" rule curve.  They then informed CP&L by letter on January 15, 1968 that they were asking for the changes and proposed a reduced Headwater Benefits payment of $62,500 per year.  The wording in the approved license amendment appears to be to "limit the discharge" to 1610 cfs, 1500 cfs and 1400 cfs during the recreational season but the wording in the new Headwater Benefits Agreement says "no less than" 1610 cfs, 1500 cfs and 1400 cfs.  Ultimately the License amendment and new Headwater Benefits Agreement were both approved by the FERC even though the wording of the two was slightly different.  This difference allows the Headwater Benefits Agreement (a financial settlement document) to be used to establish "minimum" river flow (an environmental condition).  The Commission order approving the amendment does state that "Upon complaint or upon its own motion, after notice and opportunity for hearing, the Commission may order the Licensee to operate the project works of Project No. 2197 in such other manner as the Commission may find to be necessary and desirable for power, recreational and other purposes and consistent with the primary purpose and economics of the project."  The Headwater Benefits agreement was approved under a separate order bringing up the question as to whether it is actually a part of the license or not.  I'll post a copy of our protest to the FERC for allowing this and our support of the "clarification" request by the HRLA in the next couple of days.  

Finally,  I would love to have copies of any pictures taken at High Rock on the 4th of July showing the huge number of boats on the lake that day to possibly use on a new photo page.  I'd especially like to find some showing the hundreds of boats in Abbotts Creek and/or Second Creek for the fireworks as well as any showing the hundreds of cars on the Highway 8 bridge.  If anyone has some please send them to photos@SaveHighRockLake.org

July 3, 2003

I love the internet.  It took less than 24 hours after I said I was looking for a copy of the Headwater Benefits Agreement between Alcoa and CP&L for one to show up in my Email.  Thanks to Mike Gregory for sending me a copy of the letter from FERC approving the Headwater Benefits Agreement.  It was sent to him by a FERC lawyer after he called and complained about the events of last year.  It's interesting they couldn't find it when I called this week.  While it is not the actual agreement it does contain all of the pertinent information about the agreement.  It is a FACT!  While they were making a big deal in the press about limiting the flow out of the lake during the recreational season to no more than 1500, 1610 and 1400 cfs they were also making sure they were never going to have to discharge any less than that.  I guess the only question left to be answered is if the FERC recognizes this agreement as part of the Operating Guidelines or not but I am pretty sure we all already know the answer to that question.  They have a 75 year head start at manipulating the rules in their favor but at least we are learning all of the places we have to be sure are watched closely before the license is issued and it is too late.

July 1, 2003

Congratulations to Roger Bell on winning the jackpot at the River Rats Fireworks Fund Raiser.  Roger is a loyal supporter of SaveHighRockLake.org as well as my personal hero for fixing my house so it doesn't flood any more.  Now he's got plenty of water and gas money to boot so there is no reason we shouldn't see him on the lake all the time (except maybe for having to work occasionally).

The High Rock Lake Association was recently able to get Jane Miller of Congressman Howard Coble's Office to arrange a meeting between several HRLA Board members and two representatives from the FERC.  After discussing issues with them face to face, they then got the Congressman's Office to forward their "request for clarification" of the Operating Guidelines for High Rock Lake.  Since Alcoa's interpretation of the rules seems to be different from the way the rest of us interpret what we read it seems like a great idea to request a clarification just as Alcoa did concerning the Drought Contingency Plan for 2003.  Having it submitted through our Congressman was a sure fire way to get a response as the FERC is required to respond in writing to correspondence from our elected officials.

As soon as the documentation was posted on the FERC web site it appears that Alcoa's lawyers got busy.  They quickly crafted a RESPONSE to a question that wasn't being asked of them and submitted it to the FERC.  Their first stab at shooting it down was to claim that it could be viewed as a petition in that it requests a "declaratory order or ruling" and was procedurally deficient since it was not sent to everyone on the Project 2197 service list.  They then noted that it contained "factual errors and/or mischaracterizations" and dedicated a whole page to explaining why WE don't understand all of the parameters of the Operating Guidelines.  What they revealed in their explanation was the piece of the puzzle I have been looking for since last July and have never been able to locate.  That missing piece is the fact that when Alcoa asked for the Operating Guideline changes included in their license in 1968 and  hyped it to the public and the FERC as a positive goodwill gesture for High Rock Lake, there were also undisclosed changes being included.  The wording of the changes made it appear that the discharge "limits" included were maximum limits and there was little or no mention of the ridiculous "draw down schedule" included.  This left the average person with the impression that when water flow was limited Alcoa COULD make the "financial sacrifice" their PR department talked about by producing less power and discharging less water than the "limits" to help keep High Rock Lake up.  What they didn't tell anyone (other than maybe FERC) was that the "Headwater Benefits" agreement negotiated between Alcoa and CP&L included wording that made what appeared to be maximum "limits" also the minimum "limits".  Since they revealed this in their document to FERC I have been searching everywhere for a copy of the "Headwater Benefits" agreement and it appears to be something that can NOT be found anywhere on the internet.  I sent a request to APGI asking for a copy of it. Since they consider it as part of the "Operating Guidelines" included in their official FERC issued license, it should be publicly available just as a copy of the license itself is.  They must be on vacation since I have not gotten any response to my request. 

This effectively makes the well hidden "Headwater Benefits" agreement the bargain of the century for both Alcoa and CP&L for the following reasons:

  1. They both get all of the fuel to run their generating plants for FREE.
  2. Alcoa has the assurance that some of their investment in constructing High Rock Lake will be paid for by CP&L. The original Headwater Benefits agreement required CP&L to pay Alcoa $100,000 per year and was reduced to $62,500 with the 1968 license modification.
  3. For only $62,500 per year (less than the cost of one average employee with benefits), CP&L is guaranteed a fixed minimum amount of this FREE fuel for the next 40 years.  They are also effectively insured against the environmental or social issues that have plagued High Rock for many years.
  4. Alcoa is effectively guaranteed the same minimum amount of FREE fuel usage since they must first use it before they can actually pass it on to Lake Tillery and they are being paid $62,500 per year for doing so.
  5. They can (and did) use the contractual agreement as a "get out of jail free card" when river flows are low and environmental stewardship should become a priority.  The contract can even be used as an excuse to defer compliance with environmental protection laws since the license terms predate the newer regulations.  As shown by the recent Drought Contingency Plan clarification, if something is specifically included in their license, Alcoa can NOT be forced to request a variance to the established rules.  Their only responsibility is to abide by the regulations that ARE specifically included in the license.

This missing bit of information emphasizes how important it is for us to continue and even escalate our efforts.  Even though the lake is full and many people actually think things have gotten better, NOTHING HAS CHANGED yet and this type of behind the scenes manipulation must be identified and stopped.  We MUST make sure the new license has the right things included to cover as many situations as possible from drought to flood.  There MUST be rules to honor all existing environmental and public protection legislation as well as provisions to require the incorporation of any future legislative mandates without waiting for the 50 year license to expire.

June 26, 2003

*****  CORRECTION  *****  The Coastline Band will be appearing at the Nazareth Children's Home Benefit on June 27th at the Rowan Shrine Club but they will not be appearing at Tamarac Marina on July 4th.  On July 4th Tamarac will be hosting the Company A band, Bo-T and Smiley's Karaoke.

June 25, 2003

With July 4th quickly approaching there are lots of activities around the lake.  This Friday, The High Rock Lake River Rats Inc. will be holding their annual Fireworks Fund Raiser.  Tickets are $100, giving you a steak dinner for 2, a chance to win $2500 and your stub can be used to gain access to the deck at The Boat Dock Beach Club to view the fireworks the following Friday.  Tickets are still available so send an email to fireworks@highrocklakeriverratsinc.com to reserve your ticket.  

The 6th Annual Fireworks display sponsored by the River Rats will begin at dark on July 4th at The Boat Dock in Abbotts Creek with DJ Gene Briles providing the music.  There will also be a Fireworks display at Tamarac Marina in Second Creek sponsored by Tamarac and Jimmy's Lakeside Restaurant with the Coastline Band.  The lake will be crowded at both locations that night so when the show is over take your time and be very careful.  We don't need any more boating accidents.  Remember that operating a boat or car while intoxicated is against the law and there will definitely be an increased law enforcement presence on the lake as well as the roads.  Be sure you have a Designated Driver!!

For those of you without a fishing license, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission has designated the 4th of July as a FREE FISHING day.  From 12:01 am to 11:59 pm you can fish anywhere in the state without a fishing license.  This gives those who are not normally fishermen a chance to experience the thrill of catching a fish.  Have some fun but remember, the normal creel limits will still apply.  You can check out the latest NC Fishing News HERE.  You might also be interested in the NCWRC Boating News.  You can find the latest boating information and even find out when and where the next boating safety courses will be held (a requirement for those 13 to 16 to be able to legally ride a jet ski). 

June 23, 2003

Congratulations to Steve Sink and Ladd Whicker on winning the National Bass Circuit "Summer Blast @ The Rock" tournament Sunday.  They also had the Big fish of the tournament so they took home a total of $3000.  Not bad for a day of doing what they love to do.  You can get all of the tournament results HERE.  We would like to thank Scott and Jeff Turner and the National Bass Circuit for their generous $300 donation to our efforts.  It is refreshing to know that the sportsmen who enjoy their recreation at High Rock are aware of what will have to be done to protect everyone's rights at High Rock.  We would like to also offer a BIG THANKS to Gene Briles for DJing and entertaining the crowd at Tamarac before the weigh in.  Everyone donating their time and money are what will keep our efforts going strong and help us to ultimately succeed!!   

June 20, 2003

The FERC issued their RESPONSE today to APGI's request for clarification of the Drought Contingency Plan for 2003. As far as I can tell, their clarification is as confusing as APGI's interpretation of their responsibilities under their own plan.  They did state that the "Team" would continue to include Duke Power and the High Rock Lake Association.  But they also said that nothing was specified by APGI or the FERC to "govern the operations of the drought management team that meets monthly to evaluate local hydrologic data. The charter for the team was left as a responsibility of the team with no approval necessary from the Commission".  They encouraged that any changes made in project operations in response to drought conditions would be made in consensus with the team, as was done during the summer of 2002, however ultimately APGI is responsible for compliance with the terms of their license.  What I THINK this means is that the well hyped Drought Contingency Plan for 2003 ultimately means very little.  APGI can position the "team" and it's members into most any capacity they wish and their ultimate responsibility is nothing more than compliance with the terms of their license.  Those "terms" are what caused the devastation of High Rock Lake in 2002.  I guess the biggest consolation to this whole fiasco is that right now nature seems to be ensuring that the worthless plan simply isn't going to be needed anyway.

Speaking of the abundance of rain we have been having, the FERC also issued a RESPONSE to the City of Salisbury and those individuals complaining about the higher lake levels at High Rock causing the flooding to be greater 20 miles upriver.  Their simulations based on the enormous amounts of water coming down the river revealed that had High Rock Lake been down 10 feet at the time of the flooding, the resulting flood stage waters 20 miles upstream MIGHT have been as much as 0.5 feet less.  Since the river crested at 8 feet above flood stage, I don't think a difference of 0.17 to 0.5 feet less would have made much difference to anyone.

Don't forget about the "Summer Blast @ The Rock" bass tournament this Sunday at Tamarac Marina.  We will be there from noon until the weigh-in with information, T-shirts and DJ Gene Briles for entertainment.  Stop by and pick up one of our great looking SaveHighRockLake.org T-shirts and meet some of the folks working diligently to protect your rights.  You might even get to see what $5000 worth of Largemouth Bass looks like.

June 17, 2003

Do you own waterfront property in North Carolina?  Do you have friends and family come to visit?  Then you should consider investing in the Special Guest Fishing License offered by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.  This license allows anyone to fish from your property's shoreline or pier without fear of getting a ticket for fishing without a license.  The license is good for one year and costs only $50.  That's less than the cost of one ticket and it buys a lot of peace of mind.  I've had one of these licenses for years and it's the best money I ever spent.  When guests from out of state or NC residents without a fishing license come to visit, they can relax and spend some leisure time fishing without worrying.  Generally, the Wildlife Officers will stop by once each year to verify I have renewed it and will ride by and wave for the rest of the year. 

June 16. 2003

If you are like most of  us you refer to the lake levels page on APGI's web site often.  Just in case you hadn't noticed, they have moved their web site and simply stopped updating the old one.  Click on these APGI Yadkin Home Page and Lake Levels links and then update your favorites to be able to keep up with our lake levels.

June 10, 2003

We talked with Charles Reusch at the FERC yesterday concerning our options for filing comments on Alcoa's request for clarification/rehearing on the Drought Contingency Plan the FERC approved with modifications.  What we were told is that comments on this particular type of request are almost never accepted or considered.  He indicated that we could submit comments on the proceeding but it would most likely be a waste of time.  Today we discovered that having your own legal staff has its benefits.  South Carolina filed a "Request for oral argument and to file a brief in response to a request for a rehearing" this afternoon.  We looked up the statute they referenced in their filing and it appears that their request is the correct "legal" response  to Alcoa's request.  Seems you have to ask permission to speak out when a rehearing is requested.  I guess SC is as unhappy with what Alcoa is trying to do as we are, just with different motives.  We will be calling Mr. Reusch back tomorrow and filing our own request to speak.

June 9, 2003

Are you curious about the "green stuff" that seems to be covering large areas of the lake.  Thanks to Stepany Farquhar at the High Rock Lake Campground and Marina, we now know what it is.  Stephany called Abner Brady, Environmental Specialist Division of Water Quality for the State of North Carolina, who informed her the "green stuff" is DUCK WEED.  Due to the flood waters, the DUCK WEED is washing downstream from the "high nutrient ponds " into the lake. The DUCK WEED is an aquatic vegetation that will not hurt you. In fact, it should help the fishing.  It gives the fish a cover to hide under and puts oxygen back into the water.  So, quit worrying and enjoy the lake!  

Along with the DUCK WEED, there is a serious amount of trash and debris washing down the creeks and river.  While you are enjoying the lake be very aware that almost everywhere you go there are limbs, logs and all types of trash presenting multitudes of recreational hazards.  Also remember that since the water levels are so high you need to be especially careful going under the bridges and very observant of the "No Wake" zones.  With very little clearance for those able to get under the bridges, even the smallest waves can force a boat into the bridge and cause significant damage.

According to an ARTICLE in the Salisbury Post, High Rock Lake will be stocked with 150,000 striped bass fingerlings this year.  This is nearly twice the normal number stocked in High Rock.  They hope to offset any damage that may have been done by last years drought to the striped bass population.  Thank goodness our state agencies are trying to take care of our lake.

The Relicensing page has been updated with the latest revisions of all of the documentation and the final meeting minutes for the March meetings.  Happy reading!!

June 1, 2003

In case you didn't notice, we have given the web site a face lift and a new menu structure.  We'll be updating several more things over the next couple of weeks.  We will be adding a site map soon that will help anyone using one of the older browsers that is not JAVA enabled.  If you have the NEWS page bookmarked in your FAVORITES, take note that it has moved to a new location and you will need to update your FAVORITES.  If you experience any problems navigating the site or encounter any links that do not work please send an email to webmaster@savehighrocklake.org and we'll try to fix whatever the problem is.  

May 26, 2003

Apparently Alcoa does NOT like anyone telling them what to do, not even the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Friday they filed a request for clarification and/or a rehearing concerning the Drought Contingency Plan as amended and approved by the FERC.  They appear to be very upset that Duke Power and the High Rock Lake Association were added to the list of stakeholders participating in the drought conference calls and meetings.  So upset in fact, they seem to be telling the Federal Agency responsible for overseeing their compliance with their license what they WILL and WILL NOT do.  Their interpretation of the DCP approved by the FERC includes the following:

  • Duke Power and HRLA will be allowed to participate in teleconferences and meetings BUT will NOT be part of any decision making process.
  • APGI, Progress Energy, NC and SC State Agencies will be the only ones allowed to participate in making decisions.
  • The DCP does not require APGI to seek license variances in response to drought conditions or require a specific form of decision making with respect to drought issues.
  • Since the DCP is NOT an amendment to their license, they are under no legal obligation to seek license variances and can NOT be compelled to do so under any circumstances.

Essentially they are asking FERC to approve their interpretation of the DCP which is that it doesn't mean SQUAT and they can't be required to do anything that is not specifically part of their license.  They request clarification that their interpretation is correct and if it is not correct, they request a rehearing as necessary to conform the April 23rd order to their interpretation.  Click HERE to read the entire filing.  We keep trying to emphasize that NOTHING has really changed yet and this should give you a better understanding of why we keep saying it over and over again. Until things like this ARE made part of their license we are and will always be at Alcoa's mercy.  Things like this are why we are participating in relicensing and give you a good idea of why we WILL need funding for legal advice.

Be aware that the recreational surveys that are part of relicensing have begun and during the next year you may be approached by surveyors about your visit to one of the Project 2197 lakes.  PLEASE take a few minutes to answer their questions or fill out the forms if requested.  Many of you have asked what you can do to help with our efforts in relicensing and this is one of the things that is strictly up to YOU.  It is VERY important that an accurate and complete study of the recreational activities here is accomplished for relicensing to be able to protect your rights.

May 14, 2003

The ARTICLE in the Salisbury post gives you a good  idea of the complaints that have been sent to FERC and gives quite a few details to support our belief that the flooding that occurred upstream of High Rock Lake had little to do with the level of the lake.  When there is an enormous amount of water coming down the river, the restrictions of the river channel many miles before reaching High Rock Lake are the major contributors to the levels the river crests at upstream.  My compliments to Mark Wineka on a well researched news article.

May 12. 2003

It seems that no matter how hard we try to put and keep water in High Rock Lake, someone is always working against us.  Evidently the City of Salisbury has filed a complaint with FERC concerning the management of High Rock Lake this spring.  There have apparently been a couple of complaints filed by individuals also.  So far we have not been able to get a copy of any of the complaints,  but in the REQUEST from FREC for the operational data for High Rock during the floods this spring it appears that they are contending that by having High Rock Lake full it caused the flooding UPSTREAM to be more severe.  Salisbury contends that their water and sewer systems were negatively impacted by the flooding (what a surprise, so was everyone else).  While it is true that the Yadkin River crested at about 25 feet at the Yadkin College sensor in late March, I don't have a clue what that has to do with the pre-flood levels of High Rock Lake. While lower lake levels might have had some tiny impact on DOWNSTREAM flooding (not likely), they would have no bearing on the level the river crested at BEFORE it reached here.  It appears that APGI was able to discharge most of the water entering High Rock since it never went appreciably above full pool levels.  If we can get our hands on any of the complaints we'll post them here.

Be sure to be checking the Events Page for things happening around the lake this summer.  We've recently added information about the First Annual High Rock Flotilla, several special events happening at the Boat Dock Beach Club  and added links to the calendars on Tamarac Marina's web site.  We also posted the information about the Summer Blast @ "The Rock" tournament being sponsored by the National Bass Circuit.  They have offered to donate some of the proceeds from the tournament to SaveHighRockLake.org !!  We'll be there that afternoon to keep up awareness of issues that still must be addressed and resolved during relicensing. Check the Events Page regularly as things will be added as quickly as we find out about them.

For those of you who would like to give something back to High Rock, SaveHighRockLake.org has  adopted part of Highway 8 starting at the bridge in Southmont.  We will be organizing events to clean up along the highway as well as some of the areas frequented by bank/bridge fishermen.  We will post notices once the details are finalized.

If your house was anywhere near the areas pounded with hail last Saturday, it would be an excellent idea to have your roof checked by a professional before deciding you did not have any damage.  So far almost everyone we have talked to in the Abbotts Creek and Flat Swamp areas has had serious damage and will be getting a new roof compliments of their insurance company.  Most of the roofing contractors are already three or more months behind.

May 5, 2003

Just in case you weren't aware, there was a VERY big storm at High Rock Lake on Saturday afternoon with hail as large as baseballs.  There has been quite a bit of damage reported so far, especially from the Abbotts Creek area.  Many homes had roof, patio furniture, boat covers and even vinyl siding damaged, not to mention many cars that were just pounded.  If you own property at High Rock and don't live there on a full time basis, it might be a good idea to make a special trip to check on your home.  Here's a few examples of what happened.

Click here to enlarge photo    Click here to enlarge photo    Click here to enlarge photo    Click here to enlarge photo  

May 4, 2003

The minutes from all of the March IAG meetings have been posted on the FERC Proj 2197/Relicensing page along with all of the Study Plans (drafts) that have been defined so far and many of the survey forms that will be used during the studies.  This is all of the published relicensing information available at this time and probably gives you more information than most people will care to read.  In any case, if you want to know, all of the information about relicensing that is in print will be available here for you.  The recreation surveys will be beginning very soon and it is VERY important that you take the time to complete any survey questionnaire presented to you.  This is the only way to certify the amount of recreational use the lakes support and to identify any facilities or issues that need to be improved.  Please take a few minutes and help us succeed at getting changes made that will be beneficial to everyone for the next 50 years.

Make plans to attend the General Membership meeting on Wednesday if possible.  This will give you the opportunity to ask questions about the relicensing process and to help up make some plans for the future.  If you are interested in "Community Service" around High Rock Lake come and hear about our plans as well as suggest things for the future.

April 28, 2003

SaveHighRockLake.org will be holding our second quarter "General Membership" meeting on Wednesday, May 7th at the Elks lodge in Lexington.  Check the Meetings Page for details and directions.  We will have updated information concerning our efforts in representing your interests in the IAG meetings, details about our "Public Service" ideas for High Rock Lake  and will be looking for your input concerning future "Fund Raising" ideas.

April 23, 2003

In what appears to be record time for a FERC decision, the APGI Drought Contingency Plan for 2003 has been approved WITH modifications. It appears that FERC did pay attention to many of the comments we all submitted and made several changes to APGI's plan before they approved it. Click HERE to read the entire ORDER. The most notable change involved modifying the plan to be implemented on a yearly basis if needed. This means that the plan will be applicable any year it becomes necessary until their new license is issued in 2008. They also expanded the group of participants in the monthly teleconference meetings and any periodic meetings as it relates to drought management at the Yadkin Project. Duke Power was included since APGI is required to coordinate the operation of the Yadkin Project with them and they have extensive expertise in water management garnered from operation of its own hydroelectric facilities. A representative of the High Rock Lake Association was also included in recognition of their long-standing and active participation in numerous proceedings before the Commission, dating back to the 1960's. and their endorsement by other local non governmental organizations.  HRLA is one of our sister organizations in the High Rock Lake Coalition and in the event drought conditions return will be a valuable voice for all of us in the meetings.  Finally, the following parties were granted intervener status for this proceeding: the State of South Carolina through its Departments of Natural Resources, and Health and Environmental Control, Linda Bell, SaveHighRockLake.org, Ronnie Qualkenbush, and High Rock Lake Association.

While the Plan may not be perfect, at least we do have some assurance that there is an official plan in place to minimize the chance of future devastation to High Rock Lake. The changes made to the Plan show that all of our efforts have not been in vain and the collective voice of the public can make a difference.  We asked for a plan that was NOT limited to 2003 and we got it.  We asked that a representative of the public be included and we got it.  We will continue asking for changes beneficial to High Rock Lake as well as the Yadkin-Pee Dee river basin and with a little luck and a lot of hard work we can get many of them also.

April 21, 2003

We would like to thank each and every one of you who came to our 1st Annual Spring Kick-Off Party and made it a HUGE success.  As near as we can tell, somewhere between 225 and 250 generous supporters had a very LARGE time with about 60 or so that we had to run out of the door at 2 am.  The Liquor Basket raffle was won by Scott Maxwell who immediately offered to donate it back to us and let us auction it off to the highest bidder.  Jerry Grimes then won the bidding with a generous $200 bid.  When it was all over, we made $535 profit from the Liquor Basket.  Steve Henderson won the Half and Half drawing and immediately donated all of his winnings back to us, giving us a whopping $570 profit on the drawing.  At the end of the night when we had paid all of our expenses, we came out with a net profit of $3942.02 which far surpassed our original goals and gives us a great start to our Fund Raising drive.  It was truly heartwarming to see so many of you come out and show your support and have such a good time in the process.  I can't thank you guys enough for your support and generosity.  At the request of MANY of you, we are already looking at something similar in the future.  We still have a few of the OFFICIAL Party T-shirts left if you would like to have one for only $10.  Contact Pete or Susie and let them know (E-mail links on the Directors Page).  

April 17, 2003

Alcoa has filed a RESPONSE to all of our Public Comments submitted concerning their Drought Contingency Plan for 2003.  As we fully expected, according to APGI many of us misunderstood exactly what they had proposed and "misinterpreted the December 20th Letter's directions".  We didn't misinterpret that their license has contained wording since 1968 that was supposed to help ensure that High Rock Lake was kept within 5 feet of full pool during the recreation season and any time there was a shortage of water that portion of the license was sacrificed with no consideration being given to anything but power generation!!  As reiterated in the last paragraph on page 11, "One of the principal goals should be to ensure that the elevation of High Rock Lake be maintained within five feet of full pool".  To us the wording still dictates that while this may not necessarily be possible under ALL circumstances, this is supposed to be a higher priority goal than making power.

If you are planning to enjoy some sun and fun at High Rock Lake this weekend, be sure to make plans to attend our 1st Annual Spring Kick-Off Party on Saturday night. We hope to be able to have some FUN and raise some money for a cause that directly impacts all of us.  In this case, charity NEEDS to begin at home!  Check the EVENTS page for details and directions.   

April 14, 2003

We have another new business SPONSOR!!  Welcome to CARLTON OWENS MASONRY.  All kinds of Brick, Block and Rock masonry work.  Maybe you could use a new BBQ Pit.  Check the SPONSORS page for businesses offering to donate toward helping us Save High Rock Lake for the next 50 years.  If you need a new boat, furniture, carpet cleaning, or masonry work call one of our LOCAL business sponsors and help us out at the same time.  We will all win in the long run.

April 10, 2003

I talked to one of FERCs lawyers this week asking when we could expect FERC to review the submissions about the Drought Contingency Plan and issue a ruling.  Unfortunately he had no answer other than to watch the agenda for the Commission meetings.  It wasn't on the April 9th agenda and the next meeting is scheduled for April 30th so they haven't published the agenda yet.  Unfortunately the wheels of federal agencies turn VERY slowly and we may not have a ruling before summer gets here.  The good news is, at the rate we are getting rain it may not be a real issue.  Even if the Plan is not needed this year, we will continue to push for having one developed and ready for use in the future.

We attended the Recreation, Aesthetics and Shoreline Management IAG meeting today and presented the ISSUES you sent in concerning the Shoreline Management Plan and requested they be reexamined during relicensing. The High Rock Lake Association submitted a similar list developed by their group.  We will both continue to push these issues for our members who own lake property. For the most part, the rest of the meeting was devoted to discussion and review of the methods and surveys they will be using to determine the types and levels of different recreational activities on all of the lakes.  We'll post the meeting minutes as soon as we get them.

Just for your information, I have quit praying for rain!  Once again the lake is overflowing, there is a HUGE amount of water coming down the river and this time my roof started leaking as well as my den flooding.  I asked for it, I got it, I've had enough for right now.  Once again, if you are on the lakes this weekend, be very careful of all the floating debris and definitely stay away from the dams.  I want some SUNSHINE!! 

April 5, 2003

The SCDEHC COMMENTS appeared today on the FERC web site as well as the MOTION TO INTERVENE from the SCDNR.  Nobody likes the APGI Plan so far but in many cases it is for vastly different reasons.  What a surprise!!

You might also want to read the E-MAIL message I sent to all of the Davidson and Rowan County Commissioners today encouraging them to follow through with the commitment they appeared to make when they passed resolutions supporting changes to the way High Rock Lake was managed.

LAST CALL!!!  There are only a few days left to send in your comments concerning changes you would like to see to the Shoreline Management Plan. Send comments to comments@savehighrocklake.org .  Speak now or forever hold your peace!!!  Nothing is sacred or untouchable.  If you don't like it, you have to say so or we MAY not bring it up if someone else didn't already submit it!

April 4, 2003

The SC Dept. of Natural Resources' COMMENTS finally showed up on the FERC web site today.  Seems they were unhappy with the Drought Contingency Plan also.  It is interesting that in the Motion To Intervene from SC they positioned the entire state as a "person" who was actually asking to intervene.  Sounds like Lawyers and Politicians are involved there.

April 1, 2003

We would like to welcome our newest SPONSOR!!  Roger Bell Masonry has joined our sponsor program and will donate 5% of any job that results from you seeing his business on our web site.  Building? Remodeling?  Repairing? Landscaping?  Call Roger and we'll all benefit!!  We're starting to get a little variety in our sponsors so check us often.  Before you spend your money elsewhere, see if there is a way to help us out at the same time by using one of our sponsors!!  Always be sure to mention you saw their offer here so they will know when to donate to us and that our sponsor program is working for them.

March 31, 2003

The period for comments on the Drought Contingency Plan is over and it appears most everybody agreed that the submission by APGI was totally inadequate.  Comments were submitted by CPOHRL, Duke Power, HRLA, HRLBOA, The Pee Dee River Coalition, SHRL and quite a few individuals.  If you want to see all of the filings, go to the FERC Ferris site, change the "From" Date to 2/1/2003, enter "P-2197" in the "Docket Number" field and click on the Submit button.  This will get you a listing of all of the filings for project 2197 since Feb. 1st.  

If you haven't heard yet, there is a new boating regulation that you should be aware of.  Seems like a good idea to me but I wish they had a more effective way of getting the word out to boat owners since everyone does not have access to the internet.  Even those of us who do would only find it by stumbling across it.

The High Rock Lake Association will be holding an "open meeting" on April 9th.  Check our MEETINGS page for information and directions.

We are making headway on getting all of our members names and e-mail addresses entered into our database.  It appears that some e-mail addresses may have changed or may not have been legible on the sign up sheets from the membership drive events.  If you are not receiving occasional e-mails from us and would like to be alerted when the NEWS page has been updated, send an e-mail to news@savehighrocklake.org and request your e-mail address be added/updated.  If you are getting e-mails and would like to have your address removed from the list, send an email to remove@savehighrocklake.org .

There is only one more week to send in your comments concerning changes you would like to see to the Shoreline Management Plan. Send comments to comments@savehighrocklake.org 

March 25, 2003

We filed our MOTION TO INTERVENE today concerning APGI's Drought Contingency Plan for 2003 as well as one last set of COMMENTS on the subject.  In our comments we revealed the results of the Spread Sheet modeling we did for High Rock Lake and the rest of the river basin using the actual river flows from 2001 and 2002.  Based on the results of the modeling, we have updated our Goals for Relicensing to include the Operational Guidelines we proposed in the comments.   Since these guidelines were actually much more responsive to the FERC request for a Drought Contingency Plan than the Plan submitted by APGI, we requested that Project 2197 be operated using these guidelines until their new license is issued. 

We have also made several Web Site changes this week.  We added a Donors page and a Volunteers page under the SHRL Sponsors section to recognize and thank those who are supporting us financially and those who are working very hard and giving much of their time.  We also updated our HOME page to reflect the fact we have moved into stage 2 of relicensing and to explain the challenges we will face during this phase.  Lastly, we added some new pictures in the High Rock Lake section showing the extreme water flows last week at the High Rock dam and the upper areas of Tuckertown.  

So far, the comments submitted concerning changes you would like to see to the Shoreline Management Plan during relicensing have been pretty generic.  This REALLY is your last chance to have the Shoreline Management Plan changed, so if you have a SPECIFIC issue you would like restudied, now is the time to speak up.  Send your comments to comments@savehighrocklake.org before April 8, 2003,

March 21, 2003

It's amazing how drastically things can change sometimes. In less than a year we have gone from one of the most severe droughts in recorded history to some of the most extremes in water flow. The Rain we had just about a month ago caused river flows that were in the top 0.4% of all time. The rains this week topped that hands down. Below are the peak stream flows as of Friday morning for the Yadkin basin as well as their ranking in All Time river flows. 

River/creek Peak CFS All Time Ranking
South Yadkin 11,900 1
Yadkin College 45,800 15
Abbotts Creek 8,330 2
Second Creek 4,630 3
Hunting Creek 6,020 19
Rocky River 53,700 9
Pee Dee River at Rockingham 131,000 9

As you can see, we all have more water than we know what to do with including SC. The stream flow right now at Rockingham would be enough to completely fill High Rock Lake from a COMPLETELY DRY start in only 21 hours. Most everything flooded (including my den again) all the way down the chain. The Yadkin crested at 8 foot above flood stage. Alcoa and CP&L have everything running wide open, all of the generators as well as the flood gates. We were told this morning that Tuckertown looked like a raging white water river just below the High Rock Dam and the parking lot for the public access area there was underwater. We were jokingly told yesterday "You guys have done a fine job of saving the lake, PLEASE STOP!". We've always lived by the motto "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it". BOY have we gotten it.

Seriously, if you go out this weekend in your boat, be VERY careful. There are things floating around that have no business being in a lake or river and can cause you very much greif (and possibly pain). By all means, stay away from the dams!! The flood gates are up and the currents there are very strong. If you had boat problems you could be in BIG BIG trouble.

If you are getting your lake home ready for this years use, please consider calling our newest sponsor, Gerry's Chem Dry Carpet Cleaning. They are offering to donate 5% of any carpet cleaning job from now until the end of the year to SaveHighRockLake.org IF you mention us when you have your carpets cleaned. This sponsor program is in the experimental stages right now to try and find creative ways to finance our efforts. Even if you don't use the services of one of our sponsors, anytime you talk to one of them or visit their establishment, mention that you saw their offer on our web site so they will know that their advertising dollars are helping attract customers to their business. If we can make this program attractive to local businesses, it will reduce the time and effort we will have to dedicate to fund raising and allow us to concentrate on issues directly related to getting beneficial changes written into Alcoa's new license. 

Mark your calendar now for our next Fund Raiser on April 19th (details on the Events page).  Live Music, Half and Half drawing, Liquor Basket raffle and loads of FUN!  If you would like to be a sponsor for the event, contact Susie Swing at susie@savehighrocklake.org.  Sponsorships are $200 and include 6 admission tickets and 6 SHRL Spring Kick Off Party T-shirts (with all of the sponsor's logos on them).  

March 17, 2003

The First IAG meetings are over and there was only a little excitement.  The basic information from the different meetings has been posted under the FERC Proj 2197/Relicensing page. We will update that page in about 2 weeks with complete minutes/transcripts of all of the meetings and any presentations given.  Check out the excitement at the Operations Modeling meeting.  This is obviously going to be the MOST controversial of all of the groups and the one that everyone will be watching closely.

It was stated in the Recreation, Aesthetics and Shoreline Management meeting that NO SPECIFIC shoreline management issues had been mentioned in the public comments.  With all the controversy over the Shoreline Management Plan when it was created, I can not imagine no one even mentioning it in their public comments.  If you wish to have something SPECIFIC reevaluated send your comments to comments@savehighrocklake.org and we will make sure they are submitted in the next IAG meeting.  If nothing SPECIFIC is requested, the existing Shoreline Management Plan will automatically become part of their new license for another 50 years!!

Remember to check our SHRL Sponsors page periodically to see what's new.  Trade Wind Treasures on Hwy 8 in Lexington has extended their offer to donate 5% of any sale if SaveHighRockLake.org is mentioned until the end of April.  If you are looking for home furnishings or accessories, patronize them and help us out at the same time.  We hope to be adding other sponsors soon so check often.

March 2, 2003

We signed up another 910 members this weekend at the Bass & Saltwater Fishing Expo in Greensboro.  All I can say is FISHERMEN RULE!!  Their concern about the environment and High Rock Lake was a pure pleasure.  Joel Harris, the Director of American Bass Fishing Club of NC offered us the support of their organization and added a link from their web site to ours.  He encouraged their membership to support our efforts.  We found that sportsmen in general were very supportive.  They thought we were doing the right thing and wished us luck in our endeavor.  We will make every effort to be sure their support is justified.  I will be adding an area under the High Rock Lake sections soon to list any tournament information we get and will be happy to post the results afterwards.  If we can get them to provide us with regular updates we will also provide fishing reports.  Lets all hope the bass population somehow survived last summer and High Rock Lake will remain a lake worthy of being chosen as a BassMasters Classic Lake again.

Don't forget to check out our new SHRL Sponsors page and support the local businesses that are supporting us!!

February 28, 2003

The first relicensing meetings are over.  It was really just an introductory planning meeting.  I have set up a new area under the FERC Proj 2197/Relicensing page where the information for all relicensing meetings will be posted.  I will post general information about each meeting shortly after the meeting is over.  About two weeks after the meeting I will add the complete minutes/transcripts of the meetings as well as any presentations that were given.  

I have also set up a new area for our corporate/business sponsors.  These are area businesses that have volunteered to help support or efforts with $$$$$$$.  Many local businesses SUFFERED last year and they know how important positive changes in the way High Rock Lake is managed will be for the economy of the whole area.  We are working on a plan to encourage corporate sponsorships that will encourage them to spend a few of their advertising dollars here, where the consumers will appreciate their support.  Be sure to check the SHRL Sponsors page.  Lets scratch each others backs by patronizing the businesses that are helping us.  IT'S FOR A SUPERB CAUSE!!!!

The FERC posted a NOTICE on 2/26/2003 soliciting Comments/Motions to Intervene concerning the Yadkin Drought Contingency Plan filed by APGI.  This does not mean they will not accept the Plan as submitted by APGI, but it does mean they are not just going to blindly accept it.  You have until March 28 to submit Comments and let the FERC know how you feel about a Plan that doesn't contain any specific drought mitigation steps and chooses to explicitly exclude representatives from groups representing defined stakeholders such as SaveHighRockLake.org.  Be sure to point out that you think "proportional reservoir drawdowns" MUST be included in the list of possible steps to be taken.  Let them know you fully support the comments filed by SaveHighRockLake.org on 2/19/2003 and the supplemental comments filed on 2/26/2003.  Filing comments on their web site is fairly easy.  Simply create your comments using NotePad or Microsoft Word and save them on your computer. Click HERE to go to the electronic filing page and select "Log In to File".  Click HERE for instructions on creating yourself an account and filing your document.

February 25, 2003

WooHoo!!!  Can you say FULL POND?  Can you say MUDDY WATER?  Can you say TRASH?  Well, if you can then you can accurately describe what the lake looks like right now.  The rain we had this past weekend was a real gully washer!  We had so much rain that the lake came up 8 feet in two days and Alcoa posted this NOTICE on their web site.  Seems they felt it necessary to point out that since the lake was ONLY 8 feet down they were not able to catch and hold all of the water coming down the river.  Spillage of FREE fuel is a BIG no-no in their business and they seem to be implying that since they were being conservative with drawdowns at High Rock this winter they were hurt economically.  In reality it would have been hard to avoid spillage from this event.  It happens to have been the 97th highest flow in 27,237 days of USGS recorded history.  That puts it higher than 99.65% of the recorded river flows since August 1, 1928.  With water coming down the river almost 3 times faster than they could pull it there would be little choice but to open the flood gates.  Maybe if Badin Lake had been down 8 feet also they would have been able to catch most of the spillage there and hold it.

I don't know how many times I've heard someone say we were wasting our time participating in relicensing and trying to get better water levels at High Rock Lake.  Well I finally have proof that they are WRONG.  Changes CAN be made during relicensing and the following "Rule Curve" being proposed at the Santeetlah Reservoir is Proof.  This is part of the Tapoco Project that Alcoa also owns and Santeetlah was managed very similarly to the way High Rock is.

This takes them from an average winter drawdown of 20 feet and a two month recreational season to a 10 foot maximum winter drawdown and a 7 month recreational season.  This is the new "Rule Curve" Alcoa is asking for but there are two other proposals also included in the license application submitted to FERC so there is a slim chance it could get even better.  There are also pages of recreational facility enhancements proposed.  Of particular interests to property owners, Shoreline Management issues are also up for discussion/revision during relicensing.

We talked to Rod Baird of the Western Carolina Paddlers/American Whitewater group.  This is the second relicensing he has participated in and he told us these changes did not come cheaply or easily.  He indicated that we could easily spend anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 on consulting/experts and legal fees and to plan to devote hundreds and hundreds of man hours. They have been working on the Tapoco relicensing since 1998. (we'll address fund raising soon - we accept and appreciate donations in any amount!!)

The Santeetlah reservoir is much smaller and less populated than High Rock.  If we can achieve our goals, the changes here will be worth thousands of times that amount to recreational users, homeowners, businesses and the economy of the entire area as well as being worth EVERY minute of the time we spend. 

If you want to see all of the documents filed with the Drought Contingency Plan click HERE.  We'll be filing these additional COMMENTS on the Plan this week.

The first Issue Advisory Group meetings are this Friday and you will be the first to know exactly what is happening.  I don't expect very much news for the first couple of meetings but you'll find it here first!! 

February 18, 2003

We received our copy of the final version of Alcoa's Drought Contingency Plan today.  You can read the final document HERE.  It looks very much like the DRAFT version we published last week. The big surprise was the cover letter included with the filing that went to the FERC.  In the cover letter they state that they specifically declined two requests made by NCDENR.  The first being a request to include more than just the power companies, NCDENR and SCDNR.  The second, and more important was the exclusion of a request to include "proportional reservoir drawdowns".  They seem to be insisting on leaving almost every option open.  Click HERE to read our official COMMENT sent to the FERC concerning their plan.  Needless to say, we were NOT impressed!!

February 10, 2003

As promised at our quarterly meeting, the first day Alcoa's Drought Contingency Plan for 2003 was available, you would be able to read it HERE.  It appears their high priced legal talent was unable to figure out what the FERC was asking them to do (as stated in the footnote on page 4). Instead of immediately asking for clarification to insure the matter was resolved in a timely manner, they wasted almost two months.  Now they can waste another 60 to 90 days asking for clarifications and reworking their plan or maybe they are just hoping that this poor excuse of a "Plan" with little or no details would fool someone into thinking they are adequately prepared if things should go bad again.

Their plan amounts to little  more than saying "I guess we'll try this or that or something else but we don't really know what".  It includes very few specifics and proves that these are NOT the people who should be managing our natural resources during hard times.  They could have defined exactly what steps should be taken and when they should be taken in order to insure compliance with the terms of their license as the FERC had stated (to ensure that the elevation of High Rock Lake is maintained within five feet of full pool).  They appear to have missed a golden opportunity to identify exactly what rules included in their current license caused them to be unable to meet this requirement during the summer of 2002 and offer the appropriate options to allow them to succeed in the future. Instead, they chose to be vague and attempt to leave almost any and every option open if and when the time came. 

To be perfectly fair, this document is labeled as a "DRAFT" and there is still time to fix it, so we will reserve our final comments until the "Official" document is filed with the FERC but we will be planning to submit comments of our own at that time.  At least the COMMENTS submitted by the NC Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources recognizes that there should be more stakeholders involved in the process if it should become necessary.  

February 3, 2003

Many of you have been asking "Where did the water go?" since the lake began it's descent to 11.7 feet below full pond. It's really pretty simple.  We had several days of really cold weather that caused "Peaking" power prices to go up.  While the price was high, Alcoa ran their hydroelectric facilities at full capacity around the clock for about 60 straight hours as well as for extended periods on several other days.  It only took about eight days to draw the lake down considerably.  

We traded several emails with Alcoa questioning the prudence of drawing the lake down so quickly and deeply, pointing out that the lake was already at the levels they had questioned their ability to reach by May 15th in earlier FERC filings.  We asked if it wouldn't have been wiser to hold the lake levels where they were and operate in "run of river" mode since the January flows into High Rock were about 40% below the historical averages.  At the present 1750 cfs river flow, it would take almost 90 days to raise the lake level 6 feet while discharging 1410 cfs as they are required to do starting March 15th (which means they would miss the May 15th deadline by 30 days).  We may eventually have the "above average" rainfall that has been predicted for this spring, but until there is some sign that it is really going to happen it only seems prudent to operate cautiously.  Their eventual response was:

Yadkin understands that different interest groups have different priorities for management of the reservoirs, it is Yadkin's intent and obligation to operate its business in keeping with its corporate goals and in compliance with its license.
One of the benefits of relicensing is that participants will have the opportunity to learn and understand the capabilities and limitations of water's sometimes plentiful, sometimes scarce, but certainly finite nature, leading to a possible rebalancing of the wide variety of competing interests.

Like we've said several times, NOTHING has actually changed yet and as Alcoa said in their letter to the Salisbury Post, "It's business as usual".

Thankfully, the cold snap has ended and the lake has been able to recover somewhat.  Lets just hope for the rest of the winter to be mild enough to keep the price of "Peaking" power low enough to avoid the temptation to pillage our sometimes plentiful, sometimes scarce, but certainly finite natural resource.

Make plans to attend the meeting on Wednesday!!

January 31, 2003

It's Official!!  We WILL be an official participant in the Relicensing of Project 2197 and be there to represent your concerns and interests in High Rock Lake.  Read our official INVITATION to participate. Everyone has worked very hard to insure that we met all of the necessary qualifications and I would like to thank them for their efforts.  Keep in mind that this is just the beginning and we will still be working to increase our membership and be sure that everyone's concerns are addressed.

January 28, 2003

We would like to welcome Davidson County on board.  Tonight the County Commissioners passed the resolution in support of better water levels and lake management for High Rock Lake. They will begin soon by meeting with APGI representatives and stating their intent to participate in relicensing.  We would like to thank the Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake for their ongoing efforts to encourage the Commissioners to step up to the plate and protect the interests of Davidson County's citizens. 

We also found the ICD COMMENTS from one of the first of the "Big Time" groups that will be participating in relicensing and many of their comments seem to be very much in line with our goals.  The response from the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League & American Rivers is VERY thorough and clearly indicates that they have participated in many previous relicensing projects. They obviously understand the "big picture" issues of how Project 2197 impacts the entire river basin and call for many required studies including the necessity for operational changes.  This is an excellent example of the quality of the groups that will be participating in relicensing and their expertise will be a great benefit to the entire process.   

January 26, 2003

If you didn't notice, it hasn't rained much lately, it has been very cold recently and Alcoa has demonstrated that "It's Business as Usual".  River flow coming in has steadily decreased for the last 30 days (proving that ground water supplies still haven't been replenished), but since peaking power brings a premium price during very cold weather, Alcoa has chosen to run their generators 24 hours a day for the last several days just as they did for the whole last week of 2002.  They have consumed over half of the water held in High Rock Lake as well as ALL of the water coming into the lake.  If Alcoa sent anyone to the Drought Management Workshop in November, they obviously missed the presentation by William Stroud from Duke Power emphasizing the need to react quickly to changing supply conditions.  

Get out your calendars and mark the following dates.  

January 28th - the Davidson County Commissioners are adopting the Resolution from the CPOHRL group in support of all of our efforts to obtain better management of High Rock Lake.  It would be great to have a large crowd there to show our appreciation of their support.  

February 5th - SaveHighRockLake.org will be holding our first quarter "General Membership" meeting.  We need your input!  Make plans to attend.  

Details about both meetings as well as directions/maps can be found on our MEETINGS page.

January 22, 2003

Some days it's amazing how you can't find anything interesting to read and other days everything you read holds your interest.  Today was one of the good days.  When you have a little time, check out these links.

On November 13, 2002, FERC held a Drought Management Workshop in Atlanta.  Check out the PRESENTATION given by William Stroud, Supervisor of Hydro Operations for Duke Power. It's an excellent documentation of why Duke Power's lakes didn't seem to be part of the same drought we suffered through.  It emphasizes what CAN be done with proper management.  Maybe we can get them to hold training classes for APGI's staff.

If you have a good fast internet connection and a fair amount of time, check out the relicensing report from Alcoa's Tapoco project submitted by Dr. Chris Bell. The report included in the minutes from the "General Relicensing Participants Meeting" is titled "The Economic Relationship between the Tapoco Project and Alcoa's Tennessee Operations".  The report begins on page 91 and documents how Alcoa's recurring claim that their cost of producing aluminum is dependent on their ability to produce maximum amounts of power is FALSE.  This claim has been the basis for many of their arguments in past FERC filings.  Dr. Bell does a very good job of documenting the fact that Alcoa's aluminum operations are powered by local utilities under bulk rate contracts and that is what must be used to determine the cost of aluminum production.  Since APGI is a SEPARATE company from the aluminum business, the profits/losses of the power generation business can NOT be used in calculating the cost of producing aluminum. Since APGI has filed to have the transmission lines removed between the High Rock and Tuckertown powerhouses and the Badin Works plant that further demonstrates the separation of the direct connection between  power generation and the aluminum plant.  This document also indicates that even though Tapoco is many years into the relicensing process, many of the  issues remain unresolved.

APGI submitted their required form 566 that states that Alcoa Aluminum was the only purchaser of electric energy for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 (other than for resale).  If you don't consume the power you generate, what other option is there other than to wholesale it out for resale?  

Interestingly enough, FERC has decided the relicensing process needs to be revamped.  There are currently two different processes that can be used but there appears to be a consensus that both of them need fixing.  You can read about some of the proposed changes HERE by viewing the presentations and reading the transcripts of the December 10th and 12th meetings.  Unfortunately, it appears that if they do "fix" the process, we will be stuck with using one of the old "broken" processes since we have already begun the relicensing process

January 20, 2003

The Board of Directors and the Members of SaveHighRockLake.org would like to thank Trotter's Sports and Marine for providing the FREE space in their booth at the Central Carolina Boat Show to the members of the High Rock Lake Coalition.  Their generosity allowed us to reach out to 200 additional recreational users who joined our group at the Boat Show. Trotter's has faithfully served the recreational needs of our community for 45 years and they have a firm commitment to give back to those who have supported them. They have been very supportive of all of our efforts and have committed to help us in any way they can.  They have become our largest financial supporter with their offer to donate $200 for every boat they sold at the show and offered to provide display racks for future events.  

Make plans to attend the Davidson County Commissioners Meeting on January 28th.  They will be adopting the resolution presented to them by the Concerned Property Owners of High Rock Lake.  This resolution will confirm the county's support of our efforts.  The CPOHRL group has worked very hard to get our local government to support our cause.  We would like to encourage everyone to attend and show the Commissioners there are MANY Davidson County citizens who appreciate their support and would like to see them MUCH more heavily involved in the whole process.

January 13, 2003

If you want to see just how far Alcoa is willing to go to prove they OWN the right to control OUR natural resources, read the ARTICLE printed in the Salisbury Post yesterday.  We understand they have done this type of thing in the past but this is the first documentation we have seen.

It seems that they are challenging Salisbury's right to withdraw additional water from the Yadkin River.  Three million gallons of water a day to be exact.  The ironic twist to the story is that the additional withdrawals are to supply water to a power generating facility owned by Progress Energy (CP&L).  It should be interesting to see what position FERC takes in this matter when you consider the interests of two POWER COMPANIES are at stake.

I know that to many of you three million gallons of water a day sounds like a lot but consider the following and then decide what you think would be the most beneficial use of those three million gallons of water.  If used by Progress Energy for their power generating plant it will be consumed in the process of making power for a 24 hour period (probably more like 8 to 12 hours of run time for a peaking facility).  If used by Alcoa to produce Hydroelectric Power it will be consumed in making power for approximately 36 seconds. That's right, running at full capacity the generators at the High Rock Dam power house will consume three million gallons of water in approximately 36 seconds. In reality they probably waste many times that amount of water just bringing the generators on line every day.  The Progress Energy plant would also be consuming some other type of fuel to actually produce the electricity but the bottom line is that it would be MUCH more desirable to manage our natural resources in a way that obtained the maximum benefit from each.  

In response, Salisbury contends their water intakes existed in the Yadkin River years before the High Rock Dam was built and decades before Alcoa obtained their license from FERC.  They even suggest that Alcoa should consider decommissioning the project.

It's almost hard to believe that Alcoa can justify the legal costs associated with this confrontation for 36 seconds of generating time.  Did they forget that they just had to lay off another 8000 people.  Evidently FREE fuel does have its advantages.  Whatever the eventual outcome, the Lawyers will get the gold mine and the rest of us will get the shaft!!

This type of confrontation will only become more common as the population in the river basin increases over the next couple of decades and our limited water resources become more constrained.  Sound water management principals must be included in relicensing to meet the needs of the greatest number of people.

January 6, 2003

Sometimes it is amazing how some things never change.  It appears that Alcoa still maintains that they did everything they could last summer even though FERC has instructed them to create a plan that accomplishes what they claim couldn't be done, keep High Rock Lake within 5 feet of full pond from May 15th to Sept. 15th even if drought conditions return.  Read how "Alcoa interprets some portions as praise for the way it handled the situation" HERE.  As hard as their Public Relations Department tries to maintain a positive corporate image, somehow I think they will miraculously find a way to comply with the mandate from their governing body. 

More importantly, the deadline for submitting your "Public Input" forms is almost here.  Your forms must be received by APGI by January 12th if you want your opinion to count.  This is the first time in 50 years your opinion will officially count and could be the last time for another 50 years. Do NOT Miss This Chance!!!  Go to our FERC Proj 2197/Relicensing page and get the forms to snail mail or e-mail in!!

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Last modified: January 05, 2011