Drought Causes Low Water Levels Along The Catawba

Sep 1, 2015

Visitors to Lake Norman and Lake Wylie may have noticed a lot more bare earth peaking out from the edges of the lakes. Lake Norman and Lake Wylie have dipped two to three feet below their typical levels for this time of year, due to drought.

Low Lake Norman water levels expose more shoreline at Jetton Park.
Credit David Boraks

Mountain Island Lake has held steady. Duke Energy controls the water level with dams. Spokeswoman Lisa Parrish says there’s a simple reason for the dips.

“Right now the region remains in Stage One drought and that impacts our lake levels,” says Parrish.

About a quarter of North Carolina has entered moderate drought this summer. Parrish says streams feeding the Catawba are running at less than half their normal levels, while hot weather has increased evaporation off the lakes and river.

The Catawba Riverkeeper, Sam Perkins, says recent rains haven’t done enough, either.

“Even when we have received some rain, the lakes have not really filled back up, because we’ve had very dry vegetation, very dry soil, and we haven’t had the good steady rains that we need to re-saturate everything,” says Perkins.

While the region remains in the first stage of drought, water managers are asking residents to cut back their usage.