A 6-inch decision could add a decade, or more, to Catawba River’s lifespan
The notice began a 30-day period for public comments, motions and intervenors in the decision.
Among the changes is a request to raise the target water elevations of three lakes — James, Norman and Wylie.
“Raising reservoir normal target elevations by 6 inches on our three largest storage reservoirs increases available storage by approximately 8 billion gallons,” said Kim Crawford, company spokesperson.
They also help solve a problem Duke and municipal water providers along the Catawba discovered throughout a hydroelectric relicensing project dating back more than a decade.
A study found the amount of water needed from the Catawba — drinking water, power, the whole lot — would exceed what it yields by 2048.
Further studies began, largely from the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group made up of Duke and municipal suppliers, on how to extend that deadline.
Boat ramps on Lake Wylie were closed because of low water for part of 2015 and 2016.
Lake Wylie Marine Commission member Brad Thomas recently asked what Duke can do when it rains to ward off problems when it doesn’t.
“These 95-degree days, you have millions of gallons of evaporation,” he said.
Even in normal rain patterns the lake level can sit a few inches off the target.