LAKE WYLIE — It wasn’t a white Christmas for Lake Wylie. But with a wet week leading to the holiday, there were other colors.
Resident Jim Wells sent photos of sediment-colored running water last week along River Oaks Road to the Lake Wylie lakekeeper, his York County Council representative and the Lake Wylie Pilot. The scene was the same, he wrote in the email, along a more than five-mile stretch where the state Department of Transportation placed berms along the road.
“Why or how can York County stop homeowners or home builders from doing the same but take no action in this situation with the state?” Wells wrote. “Lake Wylie is being severely damaged by this type of non-action.”
Lakekeeper Ellen Goff takes similar calls along with other volunteers of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. Goff said the River Oaks Road runoff is “a very unfortunate and frustrating situation,” though hardly an isolated one.
“Regrettably, it is not a rare occurrence,” Goff said.
Goff said she rode along River Oaks before the rains came and noted places where grass seed hadn’t taken hold. In other places, she said, stormwater deterrents “had failed completely.”
“Determining who is responsible to enforce erosion and stormwater protections in this case is where the focus and actions need to be,” Goff said.
Riverkeeper and lakekeeper volunteers have for years lamented the difficulty of handling erosion, particularly on Lake Wylie.
Buffer rules and environmental organizations are different in both states and the three counties touching the lake. Many areas along the lake are unincorporated, though there are some municipalities it touches like Tega Cay and after a recent annexation along Pole Branch Road in Belmont.
The River Oaks photos were taken Dec. 21. Two days later, the Catawba Riverkeeper page on Facebook posted a resident picture of a coffee-colored Catawba Yacht Club cove, just downstream of building in The Palisades.
Rain also took blame for six sewage spills in Tega Cay on Dec. 23 at almost 18,000 combined gallons. The riverkeeper page noted a similar spill upstream in Catawba County, at more than 7,000 gallons.
Residents encountering a sewage spill should contact the responsible utility first. For runoff concerns, they can contact their county environmental office or the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation at 704-679-9494.
South Carolina pollution can be reported at 888-481-0125. North Carolina pollution can be reported at 704-663-1699.