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Stakeholders sign Catawba-Wateree license agreement

Duke Energy filed a new license application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on August 31, 2006, for the continued operation of the Catawba-Wateree Hydro Project. The original license expired in 2008. The Federal Power Act requires non-federal hydro projects to relicense after the original license expires, with the new license being granted for 30-50 years. The original license was issued by the FERC in 1958 as Duke Energy was building the eleventh and largest reservoir on the Catawba River – Lake Norman.

The FERC license conditions for operation ensure equal consideration is given to both power generation and other benefits of the water resource that may include water quality and quantity, recreation opportunities, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement and protection.

Through an unprecedented three-year relicensing process, Duke Energy committed to work with stakeholders in a basin-wide collaborative process to obtain its new license. The goal of this process was to strike a balance among the Project’s power generation purpose while benefiting the environment and providing other beneficial public uses such as water supply and recreation. This collaborative process involved over 160 stakeholders, representing more than 80 organizations. Stakeholders included federal, state, and local governments, native American tribes, resource agencies, special interest groups, homeowner groups, industry, Duke Energy, and individuals representing a wide array of interests.

This process resulted in the development of a Comprehensive Relicensing Agreement (CRA), signed by 70 parties, that is a collection of recommendations to the FERC for the requirements of the new license. This agreement establishes a partnership with the communities to provide balanced and sustainable benefits for the river and for the communities along the river.

The new license for the Catawba-Wateree Hydroelectric Project was issued by the FERC on November 25, 2015 with a 40-year license term.

Benefits include:

Additional Recreational Opportunities: New and enhanced public access areas that create more opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, camping and picnicking. Pre-scheduled recreational releases create additional canoeing and kayaking opportunities.

More Land Available for Recreational Use: 2,455 acres in conveyances and easements for land conservation, public recreation and water quality protection. $16.1 million for land conservation, which has already preserved 5,371 acres in the river basin to date.

More Information Available on the Lakes and River: Reservoir levels (historical and near term), water release times, generation schedules and maps to public access areas are available as a result of this agreement. New safety signs in English, Spanish and international symbols provide additional information.

Lake Level Ranges: Lake level ranges were established to protect municipal, industrial and power generation water intakes, as well as recreation and property owner interests. Increased Aquatic Species Habitat: Higher flow releases substantially increase aquatic habitat and returned consistent water flows to some parts of the river for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Water Quality: Duke Energy installed new equipment to enhance the quality of water released from hydroelectric plants. These flow releases meet state water quality requirements and enhance fish habitat.

Water Supply Management: A protocol was developed to establish a basin wide approach to reduce water use during drought situations. These reductions apply to hydroelectric generation, water flows for recreation and public and industrial water system withdrawals. The goal is to stretch the available water supply until rain returns reservoir water storage and groundwater to normal levels. Duke Energy and the public water system owners established a Water Management Group to jointly fund long-term initiatives that will improve water quantity and quality management across the basin.

This new license will provide balanced and sustainable benefits for the river and for the communities for decades to come. Review the final agreement lake summaries for information about a particular lake.