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Widespread flooding caused by heavy rains, especially in the upper basin caused problems recently throughout the Catawba-Wateree River Basin. Debris such as logs, trees and pieces of docks were floating adrift on the lake making boating hazardous. On Wednesday, May 8th Mountain Island Lake crested near the 104 foot level. Full pond is reached at 100 feet and is the point where water pours over the dam. The reason MIL continues to be 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".
By Tuesday, May 14th Duke reported the lake level had fallen back below 98 feet. Duke had expected the lake to be at or above full pond until sometime around May 16. Information from the company on lake levels can be found here. Flooding in the Catawba-Wateree basin was worst around Mountain Island Lake and Lookout Shoals Lake. For more information click here.
On a recent Monday evening, Director of Technical Programs for 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.
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…
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.
• 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
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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Fish advisories have been issued throughout the Catawba-Wateree River basin for various types of fish. Many of these fish advisories are the result of testing initiated by Catawba Riverkeeper and confirmed by state and local officials. For a chart identifying fish types with the applicable adisories for the Charlotte area, click here. For more information about the fish advisories, click here.