Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers
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Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers Will Take the Summer Off
The Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers will not be meeting during the summer. However, we will be out on the lake, protecting your water and enjoying our amazing resource. We hope everyone has a safe summer and will attend our next meeting in the fall.
Also, please put Saturday, July 30th on your calendar for the 2016 Catawba Riverkeeper Annual Meeting. More details will be available as soon as arrangements are complete.
For all future meetings and activities of the Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers please check the Catawba Riverkeeper Calendar or this page for information about our meeting schedule. You can also click the email link below and we will be happy to provide more information or add you to our email list for meetings and activities. Call (704) 679-9494 for more information.
Have a question or comment? Send us an email
News and Information from Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers....
• Covekeepers are for the Birds
• UNCC Students Volunteer for MIL Clean-up
• 2015 MIL Big Sweep Event is in the Books
A big thank you to several groups of people who supported the lake cleanup for 2015:
To the Mayor and City of Mount Holly, NC for providing exceptional support
- Mount Holly Fire & Rescue
- Mount Holly Branch of NC Forestry
- Mount Holly Streets and Solid Waste
- Mount Holly Police Department
Gaston County Keep Gastonia Beautiful
If your group would like to help continue the year-round clean up effort on Mountain Island Lake Lakekeeper Myers asks you to contact him for ways you can help.
Thanks again to all who helped take out the trash in 2015 and we hope to see you next year.
• Duke Invites Residents to See Riverbend Steam Station
• Volunteer Social, Distillery Tour & Cookout was a great success!
• Summer of Trash Update
A vulture perches on a trash can near a discarded chair in
Also in the planning stage is the annual NC Big Sweep event on Mountain Island Lake on September 26th which is again being organized by the MIL Covekeepers and Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. So far Boy Scout Troop 59, Cub Scout Pack 59 and the Girl Scout Troop from Cooks Presbyterian Church have already expressed interest in participating in this year’s cleanup. More volunteers, especially boat captains willing to transport volunteers are needed. If your group would like to be involved this year please give us a call (704 679-9494) or email us at MILCRF@gmail.com. All volunteers will initially gather at the Riverbend boat access on Highway 16. Additional information about the Big Sweep event will be posted here and on the Catawba Riverkeeper calendar.
• Checking the Water
• Litter Bugs Plague Mountain Island Lake
Mountain Island Lake beach or garbage dump? Unfortunately both!
At the June meeting of the Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers the issue of a growing trash and litter problem on our lake was the hot issue. Recent emails and complaints, as well as patrols by Lakekeeper Chuck Myers make it clear that many of those using the lake aren’t cleaning up after themselves. Piles of trash, empty beverage cans and bottles, used diapers, blankets, paper, litter of all kinds covers large areas of the woods and shore at the southwest end of the lake. This is a heavily used area with walk-in access. The land is owned by the City of Mount Holly and because it is possible to park on Mountain Island Road, which provides access to the Mountain Island Lake dam and the Mount Holly Recycling facility people have been parking their cars on the side of the road and then hiking in with picnic and party supplies. Unfortunately too many of them have not been bringing their trash back out with them, instead leaving it on the ground or in piles at their picnic site. Even though this particular part of our lake gets cleaned up by volunteers during the annual North Carolina Big Sweep Event every fall the amount of trash now on the ground is worse than anything previously seen by our Covekeeper group.
Video shot by Lakekeeper Chuck Myers of the litter left behind by picnickers
More photos of the problem can be seen here.
After the meeting, with photos and a video of the problem in hand, Lakekeeper Myers went to the Mount Holly Police Department and met with Police Chief Don Roper to seek a resolution to the problem. Chief Roper acknowledged there was a problem and the City of Mount Holly was already taking steps toward a solution. Currently the Mount Holly Police Department is patrolling this area twice a day in an effort to create a police presence at the recreational site. They are also making users aware this area is now off-limits for swimming and alcoholic beverage consumption by walk-in users.
But the problem of the trash which is not only ugly but also a public health and safety hazard remains. Chief Roper explained to Lakekeeper Myers that he and the City are looking for a solution to address this problem. The hope is a coordinated effort by Mount Holly Waste Services, the Mount Holly Fire Department and the Gaston County Department of Corrections will result in a cleanup of the problem area. The MIL Covekeepers and other friends of the lake plan to help with immediate cleanup efforts once organized.
This fall the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and MIL Covekeepers will organize the annual NC Big Sweep event for 2015 on Saturday, September 26. We hope you will join us when we get together to once again take out the trash on our lake. Watch for details of the Big Sweep on this web page.
• City Checks Water Quality of MIL as Duke Begins Coal Ash Removal
As Duke Energy removes thousands of tons of coal ash from their Riverbend Steam Station property the city of Charlotte is keeping a close eye on the quality of our water at Mountain Island Lake. Using two floating, real-time monitors as well as sediment samples Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services has “implemented a monitoring plan so we can ensure the protection of human and ecological health of Mountain Island Lake throughout the excavation process.” According to CMSWS Environmental Supervisor Olivia Edwards the buoys now anchored in our lake will take readings every fifteen minutes and send that data wirelessly to researchers. Data transmitted will be for the dissolved oxygen content, conductivity, pH, turbidity and temperature of the water at the testing locations. CMSWS will also follow up with monthly sediment samples taken from a boat that will test for metals and “a few other indicator parameters.” The data collected will be reviewed by CMSWS for exceedances of Water Quality Standards.
• Chuck Myers Named New MIL Lakekeeper
Mountain Island Lake has a new Lakekeeper. On Thursday, August 21st Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins announced the appointment of MIL resident Chuck Myers as Lakekeeper at a meeting of the MIL Covekeepers. Chuck succeeds Alice Battle who held the position for several years before passing last spring. Having recently retired from a career in healthcare, Myers will now use his love and knowledge of the lake to help the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and Sam Perkins advocate for and educate about our lake. He can be reached by email at MILCRF@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns about Mountain Island Lake.
Sam congratulates new MIL Lakekeeper Chuck Myers
The 2014 N.C. Big Sweep started off on the Catawba River last year at our own MIL. It's unfortunate the lake is the site of literally tons of trash and litter dumping throughout the year. The good news is the public recognizes its responsibility to help keep our lake clean by coming out every year to "take out the trash". This year the event on the Gaston County side was sponsored by Catawba Riverkeeper and Keep Gastonia Beautiful. More information about the 2014 MIL Big Sweep can be found here. Charlotte Observer reporter Joe DiPriest rode out on the lake with Riverkeeper Sam Perkins Saturday morning and filed this report.
• N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Holds No-wake Zone Hearing
A public hearing to take comments regarding new no-wake zones on Mountain Island Lake was held August 21st by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The Commission is asking for public input on codifying three no-wake zones previously established by the now disbanded Mountain Island Lake Marine Commission. They are also seeking public comment on one new no-wake zone below the Cowans Ford dam around the Highway 73 bridge. The meeting was attended by area residents and lake users to Cooks Presbyterian Church where they heard about the proposed locations and offered input on the buoys. The comment period closes October 1st, 2014. More information can be found on this NC Wildlife Resources page and here. Maps for the proposed placements can be seen here and here.
• Alice Battle, Lakekeeper - In Memoriam
Mountain Island Lake Lakekeeper Alice Battle passed away in February, 2014. She will be missed. More information can be seen here.
• Riverkeeper Presents Local State of the River
There were approximately 40 people in attendance including Senator Joel Ford, Senator Jeff Tarte and Representative John Torbett.
• Plans for New MIL Development Revealed
• Coal Ash Issues Front and Center in New Study
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. speaks to local media on the shores of Mountain Island Lake
After the press conference the media and guests were taken by boat to see one the seeps from the Duke Energy coal ash ponds that were originally identified by Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins. The seeps are where contaminated water from the coal ash ponds is leaking into Mountain Island Lake and are part of a current lawsuit brought by Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and the Southern Environmental Law Center against Duke Energy.
• Flooding in Basin Causes Problems on Mountain Island Lake
Early in the summer of 2013 widespread flooding caused by heavy rains, especially in the upper Catawba basin caused problems throughout the Catawba-Wateree River Basin. Debris such as logs, trees and pieces of docks were adrift on the lake making boating hazardous. On Wednesday, May 8th Mountain Island Lake crested near the 104 foot level and on July 6th it again rose above full pond to 102.5 feet. Full pond is reached at 100 feet and is the point where water pours over the dam. The reason MIL is often higher than other basin lakes according to Mountain Island Lake Marine Commissioner Cathy Roche is "there are no gates that can be opened at Mountain Island Dam to release water. Water only goes down when it spills over the top of the dam". When moving large amounts of water through the basin Duke Energy can only move water quickly by allowing it to spill over the Mountain Island Lake dam.
At a 2013 Covekeeper meeting Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins explained why the soon to be decommissioned Duke power plant at Riverbend should have its coal ash ponds completely emptied as well as some of the water quality issues created by the ponds. More on Sam's findings and presentation can be seen here.
• Duke Energy Announces Early Closure of Riverbend Station
• Catawba Riverkeeper Discovers Illegal Seeps in Mountain Island Lake Coal Ash Ponds
Catawba Riverkeeper Technical Programs Director Sam Perkins discovered at least three seeps (leaks) into Mtn. Island Lake which appear to originate from leaking coal ash ponds. These leaks from the ash ponds are unpermitted, unhealthy and illegal. They are of particular concern because the leaks discharge into drinking water reservoirs and because Duke Power does not test the leaking material for hazardous constituents. Read More…
• Duke University Study Finds Toxic Chemicals in Mountain Island Lake
Study lead author Laura Ruhl with a core sample of Mountain Island Lake sediment
A study by Duke University has revealed high levels of arsenic, selenium and other toxic elements in the run-off from the coal ash ponds at Mountain Island Lake. The research project looked at water samples from eleven lakes and rivers in an effort to determine whether coal ash pond effluent was contaminating the water in those lakes. “In several cases, we found contamination levels that far exceeded EPA guidelines for safe drinking water and aquatic life,” Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke University said in a news release about the results of the study. Pore water samples collected from Mountain Island Lake sediment contained up to 250 parts per billion of arsenic – about 25 times higher than current EPA standards for drinking water. Mountain Island Lake is the primary source of drinking water for more than 850,000 people. More information about the study can be found here.
Ruhl and CRF Director of Technical Programs Sam Perkins prepare a sample of sediment in September 2012 for a follow-up study on Mountain Island Lake. Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation assisted with the original 2010-2011 study, 2012 follow-up studies by Duke University and is currently conducting additional research at Mountain Island Lake. A 2010 study by Catawba Riverkeeper also showed pollution in Mountain Island Lake caused by the Duke Power coal ash ponds.
• 2012 Big Sweep on Mountain Island Lake Brings Out Volunteers
• MIL Coverkeepers Take Annual Hike
This spring the Covekeepers and friends took their annual hike of the Killian Family Farm which borders the Lincoln County portion of the riverine section of Mountain Island Lake. This section of the farm has been put into conservancy by the Killian family which insures that it will never be developed. Read more about this outing by clicking here.
• Inside a Wastewater Treatment Plant
• Advisory Issued for Mountain Island Lake Fish
• Lakekeeper Alice Battle Featured in News 14 Story
• Riverkeeper Wins Service Award
On December 7th, 2011 then current Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman was presented the MIL Marine Commission Blue Fin Award in recognition of his positive efforts that benefit Mountain Island Lake and its visitors. Marine Commission Chairwoman Cathy Roche presented the annual award at the last Marine Commission meeting of 2011. More about David and the award can be seen here. In the past, MIL Lakekeepers and Covekeepers have also received the award for their service at Mountain Island Lake.
Mountain Island Lake Lakekeeper Alice Battle, along with then current Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman and CRF Executive Director Rick Gaskins gave testimony at the September 14th, 2010 EPA Hazardous and Solid Waste Management System Hearing on new proposed coal ash rules. This is an especially important issue for our lake since the Duke Energy Riverbend Steam Generating Station on Mountain Island Lake creates hundreds of tons of coal ash every year. Stored on-site in coal ash ponds it is eventually disposed of in landfills or is recycled in the production of other products such as concrete or wall board. The two coal ash ponds at the Riverbend Steam Station are on the EPA’s “List of 44 High Hazard Potential Units".
In testimony, Lakekeeper Battle told the EPA, "The measurement of safe levels of heavy metals in the water currently used are more the result of politics than of scientific study. Years of abuse of the nation's rivers and streams have produced measurable amounts of contaminants in most of the lakes in the United States. Monitoring cannot be left to the goodwill of companies whose motivation is money, not the welfare of future generations."
A 2010 sampling of our lake water, bottom sediment and fish has shown that the Duke Energy coal ash ponds are polluting our lake. See the results of the Riverkeeper's tests by clicking here.
On a spring day in 2010, Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman and volunteers set out to obtain test samples on Mtn. Island Lake in a search for heavy metal contamination in our lake and the fish that live there. Find out more about these important tests on the water we drink by clicking here. The results of the testing can be found here.
• Mountain Island Lake Classified as Impaired - NC Division of Water Quality's draft 2010 Impaired Waterbodies List includes a large portion of Mountain Island Lake, the main drinking water supply for the Cities of Charlotte, Gastonia and Mount Holly. Read the Charlotte Observer's story by clicking here.
• Coal Ash Pond Issue - While our lake is home to beautiful sunsets, summer days of fun on the water and wildlife of all kinds, it is also the site of two of the EPA's High Hazard Coal Ash Impoundments which also happen to be just upstream from the primary water intakes for the cities of Charlotte, Gastonia, Mt. Holly and Belmont. Read more about this threat to our lake here and here and here.
• Muddy Water Blues - Want to take a guess at the number one threat to our lake? Us! That's right, it's not an invasive species, pollution from the factories located in the communities up and down the Catawba River or running out of water due to drought, though that could happen. No, it's our ever increasing use of and encroachment on our lake and the land around it. Read more about this important issue here.
• Covekeepers Duck Cove Survey - Surveying our lake
• How You Can Help Our Lake
Pick up the Poop - If you're still reading then here's the deal: you kind of agreed to do this when you got your dog, just like you agreed to feed, take care of and get her shots. YES, it's disgusting; NO, no one really wants to do it and YES, your mother told you not to ever touch it. But, it needs to be picked up because otherwise it can end up in our lake where someone ends up swimming in it.
Keep Grass Clippings & Yard Waste Out of the Gutters and Storm Drains - Just like the poop it all eventually ends up in the lake, unless we make a conscious effort to keep it out. Please rake it, blow it and/or compost it, but try to keep it out of our water. Remember that the storm drains all eventually go to the lake and the Catawba River.
Respect the Buffer - The strip of land next to the lake and its creeks is called a buffer zone. We need to protect it and what lives in it. It's the law and it's also just good practice to leave it alone. Don't cut the trees there or kill the plants or build there or burn there, at least not without permission from the many regulatory agencies who have a say in what happens in the buffer. Just let it do what it does best, protect the lake. In some places, like Mecklenburg County the buffer is the first 100 feet of land after the high water mark, in other places it's the first 50 feet and some home owner associations even have their own rules.
If you have any questions send us an email or contact the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources - 704 663-1699
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