The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

August 3, 2007

Lake Tillery Level to drop

Progress Energy to run next round of tests for FERC license

Thursday, August 2, 2007 — Friday mandatory environmental studies will begin in the Pee Dee River as Progress Energy is required to measure river flow patterns, water temperature and dissolved oxygen concentrations downstream from its Tillery and Blewett Falls hydroelectric plants.

“These ongoing environmental studies are critical to our relicensing efforts and to our ongoing efforts to develop local solutions that balance environmental, recreational and operational needs,” Cecil Gurganus, Progress Energy hydroelectric plant manager said.

The focus of the testing, which will last until Aug. 18, is to analyze the dissolved oxygen content of the water below each of the plants. Managing the dissolved oxygen content is necessary to sustain fish populations in the lakes and a healthy aquatic environment.

The studies, which will evaluate the effect of power plant operations on the water temperature and dissolved oxygen in the river below the plant, support Progress Energy’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing project for its hydroelectric plants. The original license issued in 1958, will expire in 2008.

These studies must be conducted prior to the issuance of water quality permits, which are required for the relicensing application, according to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

This week, the lake levels will be lowered in order to prevent the mixing of the lakes’ temperature regions, which could effect the data. Lake Tillery may be lowered as much as one foot, a level that falls within normal lake level fluctuations.

Blewett Falls Lake levels will be brought down six feet. While no changes are expected to downstream river flows, the water levels are expected to remain at the lowered levels for the duration of the study.

While the water levels are down, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) will dredge the Mountain Creek public boating access area at Blewett Falls Lake to remove sediment and open the creek channel for improved public boating access.

“Progress Energy and the NCWRC have coordinated the planning of this improvement project so that it will take place during the study period, minimizing the impact to the community,” Gurganus said.

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