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Drought prompts higher Lake Wateree levels

Posted: December 6, 2012 6:05 p.m.
Updated: December 7, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Duke Energy has decided to keep higher than normal water levels at Lake Wateree this winter as a result of ongoing drought conditions.

According to Duke Energy reservoir and lake representative George Galleher, the company, which owns and manages the lake, consequently will not be lowering lake levels as it typically does each December.

“This may impact those homeowners that use this time period for dock repairs and I am sorry for any inconvenience,” Galleher said.

He noted the lake is routinely kept near a position of 95 feet in December, but is currently at 97.2 feet in order to compensate for the drought.    

He categorized the lake as being “very dry” and indicated that conditions are currently in a Stage 0 drought. He said the dry conditions were a cause concern, particularly as Duke Energy plans lake level operations for the next three to six months.

Under the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP), the company can choose to operate outside of the lake level target if conditions are in a Stage 0 or greater drought, he said.

He explained that stream flows from local river systems are less than the 25th percentile, meaning that 75 percent of the time the stream flow is higher.

“We are concerned with the persistent dry conditions and would like to conserve as much as we can during the winter,” he remarked.  

Accordingly, beginning in mid-February, Duke Energy will run one hydroelectric unit at the company’s Wateree Hydro Station “around the clock” to provide enhanced stream flow for riverine fish spawning.

The station, located in both Fairfield and Kershaw County, has five generating units and a capacity of 56 megawatts. 

“This flow requirement continues for several months and during dry conditions, this release of water has a significant impact on the upstream lakes as water is moved down to Lake Wateree to fulfill this commitment,” he said, referring to the need for enhanced stream flow.


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