The Lake Is Going Down Again: Are You Ready?

By Clint Calhoun

The lake draw down will begin on Nov. 26th, remain down approximately 3 to 5 feet below full pond, and will begin to be re-filled on Feb. 15th. 

This past winter, the Town of Lake Lure was forced to deviate from its every three year cycle of lowering the lake to lower it approximately 11 feet. This was to make emergency repairs to a metal shaft that allows one of the dam’s generators to operate.

Because the dramatic lowering of the lake came about outside of the normal lake lowering cycle, many property owners and business owners were left wondering if the lake would again be lowered this winter, as part of the normal cycle.

The short answer is yes. The lake is going down again this winter.

Why does this matter & why does the Town need to lower the lake at all?

  • Typically, the Town lowers the lake on a three-year cycle for one primary reason: To allow lakefront property owners the opportunity to repair and maintain lake structures, particularly seawalls. 
  • Most lake structure work can be done with the lake up and most contractors would rather build boathouses and docks that way anyway, but certain types of shoreline stabilization work,  such as seawall installation and repairs,  generally have to wait until the water is down in order to be in compliance with state and federal environmental regulations.
  • Because seawall repairs can be a costly project, many lakefront property owners use the time between lake draw downs to save for the projects.  The Town’s regulations require that all lake structures, including seawalls, be maintained in a good state of repair.
  • Given the age of the lake and its various seawalls and lake structures, many were originally built without the benefit of any engineering. Time and the erosive forces of wind and water cause failures that must be repaired. Property owners only get the opportunity to make those repairs every three years.
  • Because the lake went down a year early, due to the failure of the dam’s small generator, a number of lakefront property owners were not prepared, either financially or in terms of planning, to have their work done over this past winter. Therefore, Town Council took note of the situation and agreed unanimously to maintain the draw down schedule by allowing the lake to go down again for the winter of 2017-2018.

For information regarding town requirements for seawall maintenance, go to the town website: townoflakelure.com where you will find this story in detail.

Clint Calhoun is a naturalist and biologist and has worked in Hickory Nut Gorge for over 20 years.  He is currently the Environmental Management Officer for the Town of Lake Lure.