Duke going after improper pumpers

CATAWBA RIVER, SOUTH CAROLINA - Duke Energy announced a first-of-its-kind crackdown on lake residents who pump irrigation water from its Catawba River reservoirs.

Duke wants to limit pumping to Tuesdays and Saturdays between sunset and sunrise. Duke lake patrols will start looking for violators Sept. 12, and repeat offenders could lose their docks.

"It's pretty significant," Duke spokesman Marilyn Lineberger said. "We take these restrictions very seriously." Duke has never before taken such a step, Lineberger said, even during a drought that lingered from 1998 to 2002. Since then, the utility and other big water users on the Catawba have agreed on a drought response plan that calls for more assertive action.

About 6,000 Lake Norman property owners pump from the lake, Duke estimates. Estimates weren't available for the other 10 lakes along the Catawba. Pump owners are supposed to have permits from Duke, which manages the Catawba reservoirs under a federal hydroelectric license, as they do for boat docks. Violators of the restrictions will be given notice to stop.

With a second violation, Duke says, it will remove the offending pump. Continued violations mean owners could lose their dock permit for up to five years. Misuse of lake pumps can be reported to Duke at 800-443-5193. Duke says the lakes' storage capacity is at about 50 percent, compared with the normal 75 percent in summer.


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