Friday, May 25, 2012

Cowan's Ford Dam - Designed for a healthier river

Cowan's Ford hydro station. From Duke Energy website
Clean And Clear Catawba, by Alice Battle – May 25, 2012
Cowan’s Ford Dam, which forms Lake Norman, has a unique design. The main dam is 190 feet tall where it forms the lake.  Another dam was built 100 yards upstream,  just below the surface of the water.

This construction assures that the warm, oxygen-rich water at the top of the lake will pour through the spillways. This water guarantees that the fish downstream will be able to breathe. 

The dam also maintains a permanent cold pool near the bottom of the lake. That layer is pumped backwards in a slow, gentle manner to avoid whirlpools and is used to cool the Marshall Steam Plant on one of the lake’s upper fingers.

The coldest, deadest and closest to the bottom layer of water is pumped up past the surface, where it supplements the condenser-cooling water for the McGuire Nuclear Station.

The design of the Cowan’s Ford Dam also assures that clean water enters Mountain Island Lake. The mud that once came down the river, before construction of Cowan's Ford Dam in the early 1960s, now is settled out in Lake Norman. Mountain Island Lake provides drinking water for 80% of Charlotte’s population. In addition, Gastonia and Mt. Holly have water intakes on Mountain Island lake.  Mt. Holly provides water to the town of Stanley.  Gastonia sells water to Ranlo, McAdenville, Cramerton, Lowell and the South Carolina City of Clover.

The EPA has a lean staff to monitor pollution in the river. To monitor the river,
Duke Energy has a cadre of scientists commissioned to keep tabs on the company’s performance. They are environmentally conscious.

About Alice Battle – Alice lives on Mountain Island Lake has served on numerous groups devoted to protecting the lake, including the Duke Energy Relicensing stakeholders group. She currently is Lakekeeper for the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation.

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