UPDATE: Duke Energy shifts focus to middle, lower Catawba-Wateree

May 7, 2013 

— Duke Energy continues working quickly today to move high water through the Catawba-Wateree Basin and encourages lakeside residents to use caution in low-lying and flood-prone areas.

Some areas in the upper Catawba region have received 11 inches of rain or more in the last three days, requiring Duke Energy’s hydro operations team to move significant water volumes through the Catawba River’s 225 miles and chain of 11 reservoirs and 13 hydroelectric stations.

“We received about three months of rain in three days in the upper Catawba River Basin,” said Randy Herrin, general manager of the hydro fleet. “As the upper Catawba begins to stabilize, our focus is on public safety and balancing the upper basin with the lower to minimize impacts to lakeside residents as much as possible. Duke Energy works closely with emergency management officials during high water and flooding conditions to provide information to help ensure they can make appropriate public action decisions.”

Some streams and tributaries are flowing at 50-100 times their normal volumes of water. Duke Energy is managing the river by passing water through engineered spillways or floodgates at all the lakes it manages along the Catawba, except Lake Wateree, although the company expects Lake Wateree to spill sometime early Wednesday.

“In addition, we are operating all available hydro units,” Herrin said. “Upstream, Lake James, Lake Rhodhiss, Lake Hickory and Lookout Shoals Lake are stabilizing and the lake levels are beginning to lower.”

Monitor lake levels online at duke-energy.com/lakes/levels.asp, where special messages on lakes also are available, or call the Lake Information Line at 1-800-829-5253.

In certain low-lying neighborhoods, Duke Energy may need to disconnect electricity for safety reasons. If so, Duke Energy will provide as much notice to customers as possible. The company would reconnect those customers once local officials indicate it is safe to do so.

“High water can create hazardous conditions, and we encourage residents to be alert and adhere to the advice of local emergency management officials,” Herrin said. “We appreciate our customers’ patience and cooperation while we manage these high flows.”

Anyone with questions about what actions to take during such events should contact a local county emergency management office. Here are suggested safety measures for high water conditions:

• People who live along lakes and rivers and in other low-lying areas or areas prone to flooding should pay attention to local media for changing weather conditions and rising lake and river levels.

• Know your area’s flood risk. During rains that have lasted for several hours or even several days, be attentive to the chance of flooding.

• High water conditions and debris can create navigational hazards and the public should use caution and adhere to the advice of local emergency management officials before going on area lakes or rivers.

• Residents along lakes and rivers should move loose objects away from the shoreline to prevent creating additional navigational hazards.

• Residents who have electrical service to facilities (piers, outside lighting on seawalls, etc.) on or near the water, should have a qualified electrical contractor de-energize this service to avoid injuries and equipment damage.

For more information, visit duke-energy.com.

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