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Duke settles Catawba River dispute with South Carolina AG

Duke Energy South Carolina President Catherine Heigel speaks to press at a Lake Wylie boat ramp while SC Attorny General Henry

Duke Energy has agreed to change its dam operations on Lake Wylie ahead of schedule in order to placate South Carolina's attorney general. The result may also affect the state's water fight with North Carolina. Typically Duke Energy lets water pass through its dams depending on the need to generate electricity. Sometimes it doesn't let any water through at all. But by the end of the year, Duke Energy has agreed to keep water continuously flowing from the dam at Lake Wylie. That will be good for people who recreate on the river and fish that live in it, but it will limit Duke's ability to generate electricity on short notice. In exchange, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster has withdrawn his opposition to a water quality certificate Duke Energy needs so it can continue operating those dams. But don't be fooled: McMaster is still gunning for North Carolina in a Supreme Court lawsuit over the river. He says he'll now turn his attention to the "main event." "That is, working with North Carolina to see that South Carolina's equal rights are respected by law," says McMaster. The Catawba is a major source of drinking water and electricity for millions of people in both North and South Carolina, including the Charlotte region. McMaster filed his lawsuit against North Carolina in October 2007.