Yadkin Project (FERC No. 2197)
Drought Contingency Plan Conference Call
March 5, 2009

  • Alan Jones, Alcoa Power Generating Inc.
  • Athena Strickland, Pee Dee River Coalition
  • Chris Goudreau, NC Wildlife Resources Commission
  • Dan Emerson, US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Daniel Ngandu, NC Division of Water Resources
  • Deb Owen, NC Division of Water Quality
  • Drew Elliot, Progress Energy
  • Garry Kenney, Badin Lake Assoiation
  • Hope Mizzell, SC Department of Natural Resources / State Climatology Office
  • Jeff Townsend, Progress Energy
  • Jody Cason, Long View Associates
  • Joyce Fitzpatrick, Fitzpatrick Communications
  • Kirk Cover, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Kreig Leuschner, Duke Energy Buck Steam Station
  • Larry Jones, High Rock Lake Association
  • Larry Turner, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control
  • Larry Warring, Progress Energy
  • Lee Spencer, NC Public Water Supply
  • Marshall Olson, Alcoa Power Generating Inc.
  • Max Gardner, Progress Energy
  • Mindy Taylor, Progress Energy
  • Nob Zalme, Duke Energy Buck Steam Station
  • Rich Schaefer, Uwharrie Point Community Association
  • Ron Linville, NC Wildlife Resources Commission
  • Steve Reed, NC Division of Water Resources

Because the U.S. Drought Monitor recently classified the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin as D1 “Moderate Drought” and in accordance with the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) for the Yadkin Project (FERC No. 2197), Marshall Olson, APGI, convened a call among interested parties to consider actual and forecasted stream flow, precipitation, and groundwater levels in the basin. Marshall clarified that the DCP would be in effect until such a time when FERC issued a new license for the Yadkin Project and approved the Low Inflow Protocol included in the Relicensing Settlement Agreement (RSA). Marshall indicated that the format of the call would follow the typical ‘round robin’ format of previous calls in 2007 and 2008. He also encouraged anyone interested in working on public communications related to the drought and the Drought Management Team’s (DMT) efforts to remain on the phone at the conclusion of the call for a short discussion about a news release.

Alan Jones, APGI, reported that all the Yadkin Project reservoirs are at or very near full pool. He said that the recent rain/snow storm had quickly used up the 3-ft reserve in High Rock Reservoir. He recognized that there still exists a precipitation deficit, particularly in the upper end of the basin, and that groundwater levels are still very low. He anticipated drawing High Rock down 3 to 4-ft in March to be able to capture the next rain event and then trend upward before April 15 when APGI manages the reservoirs within 1-ft of their April 15 elevation through May 15 to support the spawning season. He noted that average inflow for the month was 3,300 cfs.

Nob Zalme reported no operational restrictions at Duke’s Buck Steam Station on High Rock Reservoir. Dam Emerson said that W. Kerr Scott Reservoir is currently at elevation 1,032-ft and the USACE is currently releasing about 1,200 cfs from the dam. He said that inflows into the reservoir had been healthy after about 2.1 inches of rain fell in the upper portion of the basin. He expected the reservoir elevation to fall to 1,031-ft on March 6, 2009 and releases would drop to about 300 cfs.

Lee Spencer did not report any problems. He was hopeful that the snow would help recharge the groundwater levels.

Neither the NC Department of Environment and Conservation (Divisions of Water Resources and Water Quality) nor the NC Wildlife Resources Commission had any comments.

Larry Jones, on behalf of the High Rock Lake Association, commented that river flows continue to be far below normal and that long range weather forecasts still indicate a repeat of last year’s dry summer. He asked for APGI’s caution in pulling the Yadkin Project reservoirs down to prepare for the next rain event because recharging the reservoirs may not be as easy as the past couple of days with the recent rain/snow event. He urged keeping as much water in storage as possible. Larry expressed his appreciation for APGI’s conservatism through the fall and winter and said that he was real pleased with APGI’s operations during the 2008 drought.

Rich Schaefer, a representative of the Uwharrie Point Community Association, encouraged more public education around the Project reservoirs. He said that the general public will look at the full reservoirs and think everything is fine. The general public does not go look at river flows and groundwater levels. He suggested that there be some simple, informative communications that discuss what normal rainfall amounts look like and identify how much rain in excess of normal is necessary to restore groundwater levels. Joyce Fitzpatrick and others agreed that the Communications Subgroup could look for opportunities to educate the general public about the drought in press releases, newsletters etc.

Garry Kenney stated that the Badin Lake Association (BLA) is very concerned that Narrows Reservoir (Badin Lake) can be drawn down as much as 5-ft before there is any reduction in downstream flows. He suggested that the reservoir not be drawn down more than 2 to 3-ft before a reduction in the discharge from Falls Dam is made. He said that Narrows Reservoir was drawn down 5-ft last summer when many other regional reservoirs remained full and unaffected. He emphasized the impacts of such drawdowns on recreation, fish, and wildlife. He said that the BLA was willing to do its fair share, but would like for APGI to reduce downstream flows before lowering the reservoir.

Larry Jones clarified that both High Rock and Narrows reservoirs have storage and that using the available storage at both reservoirs is substantially better than relying on the storage of one. Garry acknowledged that Narrows Reservoir has storage, but noted that Narrows Reservoir is one-third the surface area of High Rock and that High Rock drains about 95 percent of the river basin. Garry reiterated his concern about drawing down Narrows before reducing discharge from Falls.

Jeff Townsend spoke on behalf of Progress Energy. He said that Progress Energy is running normal and will continue its coordinated operations/communications with APGI.

Larry Turner and Athena Strickland both commented that the lower portion of the basin had more water than they knew what to do with (upwards of 22,000 cfs).

Hope Mizzell said that the SC Drought Response Committee had recently upgraded the status of the Pee Dee River Basin to the first level of drought, or incipient (i.e. a drought watch).

Marshall said that APGI will continue to monitor the U.S. Drought Monitor and that if more than 10 percent of the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin remains classified as D1 Moderate Drought APGI will schedule another DMT call in about a month’s time.

North Carolina Drought Monitoring Council