Lake Wylie is rising, but it's not expected to flood. Others on the Catawba might

2018-09-18 | Fort Mill Times

Sept. 17--LAKE WYLIE -- lake wylie

Some reservoirs already reached max capacity, and others may follow, but Lake Wylie isn't expected to flood.

As of noon Monday, Wylie sat more than two feet below its full pond level. That's the point where water would spill out of the lake, or begin flooding.

Kim Crawford, spokesperson for Duke Energy, said Duke advises anyone on or near lakes to keep clear of them until emergency management in the various counties suggests it's safe.

Monday morning, Rock Hill recreation programs were reopening, but areas along the water remained closed. They include the canoe/kayak launch at Riverwalk, the Piedmont Medical Center trail along the river, mountain bike trails there, trails from Red River Road, and facilities at Red River Road near the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.

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"We always try to stress, people who live along a lake or the river should always be mindful and use caution," Crawford said. "Conditions can change."

Lake Rhodhiss, the second reservoir on the Catawba River chain, already is over full pond in North Carolina. Lake Dearborn in Chester County, South Carolina, passed its full pond over the weekend, but was a foot below at noon Monday. Lakes James, Cedar Creek and Wateree, along with Fishing Creek Lake, were within a foot of their full ponds.

"We are really right now only expecting to spill on a couple of reservoirs," Kim Crawford said.

Lookout Shoals could reach the flood point Tuesday morning. Lake Wateree could pass full pond, too.

"It could start as early as tonight," Crawford said.

Duke has another update call planned for Monday afternoon. The lakes that spill aren't projected to do so by more than a couple of feet. Lake James, the headwaters in North Carolina, isn't expected to reach its full pond.

"We're good at Wylie," Crawford said. "We dropped some of those big reservoirs several feet before the storm."

Residents noticed.

Ed Lindsey took photos of water dropped several feet on Lake Wylie ahead of then Hurricane Florence. He took photos again Monday showing considerably more water along shorelines.

"The water continues to rise," he said.

Duke doesn't expect the largest lakes -- Norman, James, Wylie -- to flood. There no specific changes along the middle Catawba as of mid-Monday.

"We're still kind of moving, moving water," Crawford said. "It's a balancing act."

Duke manages the entire system, holding up or releasing water where needed both to prevent drought during dry weather and flooding during rainy weather. But the company can let only so much water out, even ahead of hurricanes. Lakes too low pose a threat to drinking water and other intakes.

Then, there is the reliability of forecasts.

Duke let out considerable water ahead of Hurricane Irma. That storm didn't bring nearly as much rain in the basin as projected, leaving lakes low until another big rain could come to refill them.

"Irma turned west," Duke's licensing project manager Mark Oakley told the Catawba River Basin Advisory Commission last fall. "It caused us to have to change our plans."

The remnants of Florence didn't bring catastrophic rain levels in most parts of the basin, and isn't expected to deluge the North Carolina mountains which can lead to flooding downstream. But it did bring considerable water.

Duke will update conditions as needed Monday, and beyond.

"Fingers crossed still, we're thinking it will be more minimal than it could have been," Crawford said.

John Marks: jmarks@fortmilltimes.com; @JohnFMTimes