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Duke to drop Lake James levels

Duke Energy will lower the water level of Lake James, in the foothills of Burke and McDowell counties, by up to 15 feet starting later this year.

Federal regulators want Duke to strengthen the reservoir’s three dams so they can survive an earthquake or other seismic event.

Work on two dams is finished. Next up is the Linville Dam, where construction will start in 2012. First the dam’s hydroelectric station will be removed and rebuilt down-river.

To repair the station’s lake intake, Duke will gradually lower the water in November and December to 15 feet below full pond. When that work is done next February, Duke will let water rise to 8 feet below full pond.

In May, lake levels will then be taken down again to 10 feet below full pond as the new hydro station is connected to the intake pipe. Rainfall will refill the lake.

Lake residents should call Duke at 800-443-5193 if they want to repair docks or make other improvements during the low water levels. Lake level updates are online or at 800-829-5253.