Duke Energy Monitors Lake After Fish Deaths
About 140 striped bass have gone belly-up in Lake Norman over the past week. Duke Energy with the help of the state is trying to figure out if its nuclear plant's draw on the lake during the hot weather may be behind it. When it gets hot outside bass depart for the bottom of the lake where temperatures are cooler and the water has more oxygen. But it's just a matter of time before all the oxygen there is depleted and sometimes fish get trapped, suffocate and die. The Lake Norman striped bass have some competition for that cool water. When it gets hot, the McGuire Nuclear Station switches to sipping up water at the lake's lower levels to cool the plant. "Summer is a tough time for striped bass," says Bryan McRae a fisheries coordinator with the Wildlife Resources Commission. "One hundred and forty fish over a week isn't a concern in terms of the striped bass population, but it does indicate that something's going on." Duke began using the water from the lower level intake on Monday because the plant needed cooler water. McRae says that could be contributing to the fish deaths. The utility has increased its monitoring of the lake. It's conducting acoustic surveys for fish and monitoring fish behavior with cameras around the plant's lower intakes.