Aug. 15, 2006
Ralegh, North Carolina – Representatives from 70
local governments, state resource agencies, environmental groups and
others signed an agreement on Aug. 11 to help facilitate renewal of
Duke Energy’s federal license to operate its Catawba-Wateree
Hydropower project in western North Carolina.
Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission provided early and ongoing
input in the re-licensing process to ensure that conditions
stipulated in the agreement were favorable to fish and wildlife, as
well as their habitats.
Increased water flows and improved water quality conditions,
particularly in the Catawba River below Lake James, will provide
better habitat for fish, mussels and other aquatic wildlife.
“Trout and other fish in this river section will benefit from
increased dissolved oxygen during the summer when conditions are
typically the most severe,” said Chris Goudreau, hydropower
licensing coordinator for the Commission. “We hope to see more trout
grow to catchable size in this reach.”
Mussels should benefit through increased flows in the 6-mile Catawba
River bypass below Lake James. Since 1919, when Lake James was
completed, flow in the bypassed reach has been reduced to very low
levels. While six species of mussels in this area have held on for
nearly 90 years, additional flow is expected to give the mussels an
opportunity to increase their numbers and distribution in the river.
Hunters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts will also
benefit through the acquisition of more than 4,000 acres of prime
wildlife habitat and additional boating access and public fishing
“We expect better fishing, waterfowl hunting and wildlife viewing,
particularly on the Catawba River below Lake James and Lake Hickory
and on the Johns River,” Goudreau said. “The agreement calls for
several new boating access areas and public fishing areas in these
river reaches as well as on each reservoir.”
Many of the existing boating and fishing access areas will be
improved or amenities will be added, such as picnic areas, trails,
swimming beaches, restrooms and lighting.
Higher lake levels during the spring and fall on some reservoirs
will allow boaters to enjoy their recreational activities for more
of the year.
As part of the agreement, Duke Energy will help the Commission
purchase more than 2,800 acres along the Johns River. This land will
become a part of the Commission’s game lands program and will be
open to hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.
The Commission also will be managing the land to improve habitat for
nongame species — animals that are neither hunted nor fished — by
installing bat houses, protecting heron rookeries, monitoring eagles
and protecting bog turtle sites.
“The biggest challenge during the process was to look forward 50
years and try to balance the competing needs for the limited amount
of water,” said Goudreau. “We feel that our environmental interests
were met, while not jeopardizing the public’s requirements for
energy and water that this project provides.”
Comprising 13 hydropower stations and 11 reservoirs, the Catawba-Wateree
project spans more than 200 river miles and encompasses
approximately 1,700 miles of shoreline in western North Carolina and
parts of South Carolina.
The agreement was part of a 3-year process to gather input from
interested parties on all issue related to the project and include
those agreements in Duke Energy’s Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) license application, which is due Aug. 30.
To find out more about Duke Energy's Catawba-Wateree Hydroelectric