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Archive for January, 2013

RAINS COMING DOWN BRING KERR LAKE LEVEL UP!


Kerr Lake levels have been improving due to upstream rainfall.  Today’s lake level was reported at 302 feet above sea level or two feet above normal pool.

At the end of the week, the US Army Corps of Engineers sent information to Kerr Lake Park Watch about dramatic increases that were discussed and forecast in a meeting of stakeholders earlier in the week. 

“Drought conditions/operations at John H Kerr were dramatically overcome this week, with upwards of 5” of rain across Kerr’s watershed.  As a result we’re currently seeing inflows greater than 50,000 cfs into the lake.  As of noon today, Kerr lake level was 298.6 ft, up over 5.5 ft from a week ago and 3 ft ABOVE our current guide curve elevation of 295.5 ft.  Lake levels were expected to peak near 303-303.5 next week based on current inflow forecasts, so flood operations are being initiated tomorrow which should bring lake levels back down near 300 by next Friday (which is the bottom of Kerr’s flood pool).  Weekly outflow from Kerr and Roanoke Rapids should average about 14,000 cfs from Saturday (tomorrow) through next Friday, but daily average outflows will vary.  Releases beyond next Friday will be determined next week, but do anticipate some additional triton below elevation 300.


 


Philpott has risen about 7 ft and is currently about 1.2 ft below guide curve and still rising slightly.  With continued reduced generation next week, Philpott is expected to reach guide curve next week.”

It should be noted and noticed that in that same forecast statement and discussions, Corps scientists issued fears about going right back to a dry period.

KLPW has urged the Corps to use great care and discretion in releasing waters downstream or worrying about power generation at this point.

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Posted in: KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, KLPW - Water Safety

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NERVES RISE WITH WATERS OF CREEK NEAR FLOOD STAGE AT COLES HILL PROPOSED URANIUM MINING SITE

A creek near flood stage in Piedmont Virginia near a proposed Uranium mining site today brought an emphatic and impassioned demand for the US Army Corps of Engineers to take a position on proposed Uranium mining upstream from Kerr Lake.  That request came Roanoke River Basin Association leader, Gene Addesso, Vice President and acting President, as he told the group on the weekly meeting/call of the USACE Wilmington District Water Management Stakeholders that previous contact with the Corps has produced no action. 

Addesso, his group and many groups are concerned right now that there is evidence that rising waters of the creek near the proposed Uranium site at Coles’ Hill near Chatham, Virginia are demonstrating that the Uranium tailings that would be in holding ponds could flood and contaminate Kerr Lake and the Roanoke River basin. 

Addesso said he hasn’t gotten much interest, response or action from the other side of the Corps of Engineers so today he pleaded his case with the Water Resources side of Corps management.

The Virginia governor and legislative leaders have indicated they are ready to lift a ban.  Addesso said that the stakeholders in the river basin have to realize that there are billions of dollars on the table for the mining interests and that they have batteries of lawyers working to secure the mining permits.

But as the creek continues to rise near Cole’s Hill, Addesso said his group, RRBA (http://prod.rrba.org/) is on site taking photos and measurements to document that the contamination of mining scraps known as tailings could escape proposed holding ponds with flooding similar or worse than is going on now.  And the potential flooding there now is not any kind of major event.

Addesso also pointed out that once that kind of contamination occurs, the game is over.  KLPW, too, is concerned as one major contamination event, just one, could produce the end to park and lake recreation as it is now known.  “Although our focuses are somewhat different, we are equally concerned about any form of contamination that could jeopardize the reason that over two million visitors annually use Kerr Lake for some form of recreation”, said Frank Timberlake, Lead Public Affairs for Kerr Lake Park Watch.  “Gene and his group are right on top of this and by showing the neighboring creek near flood stage without a major event, he has our attention.  We think the Corps needs to get proactive on this and do so now.”

There are a number of online resources surrounding the Uranium controversy.  You can Google “Virginia Uranium Mining” to see many.

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - Uranium Mining Upstream from Kerr Lake, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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IT TAKES A WHILE…BUT EVEN THE REGIONAL MEDIA IS ASKING WHAT GIVES WITH LOW WATER LEVELS IN KERR LAKE?

Unfortunately, it seems that it’s gotten down to someone has to do something drastic to make media headlines or lead stories lately, but Kerr Lake as an entity unto itself, is holding up three watery fingers that aren’t as watery as they used to be and saying, “help me with Hydrilla, get me more water and don’t let them slip uranium waste into me. Oh, and if you get a chance, please check my PCP levels, they’re up, too.”

WRAL’s Beau Minnick left the studios and ventured up to the lake to see first hand the drought-stricken reservoir.  He and WRAL.com web editor Kelly Gardner filed this recent story: http://www.wral.com/kerr-lake-seeing-lower-water-levels-/11960647/

KLPW appreciates the attention from WRAL but with the exception of local media right around the lake, coverage of lake issues has been minimal. What Minnick didn’t ask was how will the almost 2 million visitors who frequent Kerr Lake annually be impacted if the lake doesn’t recover quickly from the drought?  If Kerr Lake were to lose its recreational appeal and function, how would those areas of North Carolina and Southside Virginia be impacted.  He didn’t ask why is it that the Kerr Lake suddenly has an incredible amount of newly disclosed pressure on it and how that will impact Kerr Lake residents, park visitors and lake users.  He didn’t ask if the US Army Corps of Engineers has modified its operations to do everything possible to help the lake recover.

“We think that anything that impacts a place that draws in excess of a million people a year is news.  That makes Kerr Lake news,” according to KLPW’s Lead for Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake, a native of lake country. “Kerr Lake’s issues are discussed maybe once a year by an informal group or two and then they disappear.”  Timberlake added about the growth of his group saying, “We’re not going to disappear.  We have information, we have growing numbers, we have financing and we have issues.  Kerr Lake Park Watch will continue to post news, to encourage and to invite the media to become better informed about the complex and varied issues as well as the relevance of Kerr Lake.  The real problem with motivating support and establishing actionable agendas for recreation giants like the lake is that there is a small residential population disconnected by the distance of communities, counties and even states.  Then there is the visiting population that visits and then returns home.  People who don’t live at Kerr Lake but visit must get involved in the very life of the lake.”

Kerr Lake Park Watch started on Facebook with ten members a little over two years ago and now boasts a membership of more than 160 members.

Posted in: KLPW - Boating and Related Improvements, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, KLPW - Water Safety

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HYDRILLA, DROUGHT…NOW ADD THE LOOMING THREAT OF URANIUM CONTAMINATION. CAN KERR LAKE TAKE IT?

The watershed of Kerr Lake that provides the basis for all types of recreation on and around those waters may see a new threat from a newcomer.  The past year has seen parks around Kerr Lake plagued on shore with reduced park employees, cut services and dried up budgets.  The lake has suffered from a relentless drought and the rapidly spreading noxious weed, Hydrilla.

If Virginia lifts a ban on uranium mining on the specific area of Coles Hill, the much-debated threat of possible contamination of uranium could move a step closer to reality.

From the Washington Post…Reporter Errin Haines published the following account of the ongoing battle and where the issue stands.

WASHINGTON POST – RICHMOND — A proposal to lift Virginia’s 30-year ban on uranium mining advanced Monday when a legislative panel recommended that the General Assembly address the issue this year.


The Virginia Commission on Coal and Energy approved a motion in favor of legislation after the Uranium Working Group presented the findings from its report, which was released last month. The group was established by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to describe what kind of regulatory framework would be necessary if legislators decide to lift the moratorium.


Sen. John C. Watkins (R-Midlothian) said he expects to submit legislation to lift the ban as early as next week. His proposal would apply only to the proposed mining site in south-central Virginia owned by Virginia Uranium.


“This isolates it to Coles Hill,” said Watkins, whose legislation would not seek to lift the ban statewide. “I want the bill to pass. If there were other entities that were doing research and development in other places in the state . . . I don’t know of any.”


Virginia Uranium spokesman Patrick Wales, who spoke at the commission’s hearing on Monday, called the vote “a big step forward for our project.”


“We eagerly await Senator Watkins’ bill and look forward to the next step in the legislative process,” Wales said in a statement.


Lifting the ban could clear the way for supporters to mine what is considered the country’s ­largest-known uranium deposit. The 119 million-pound, $7 billion uranium lode in the small town of Chatham has divided the community, pitting economic interests against environmental and safety concerns. The issue is likely to be one of the most contentious of the legislative session, which begins Wednesday.


The commission’s lone lawmaker from the district where the mine would be located voted against moving forward with legislation. Del. Donald W. Merricks (R-Pittsylvania) said he thought the vote was premature.


“We’re voting on a concept that is not fully developed,” he told the commission before its decision. “We don’t have a clear majority that this is what people want. I would love to see this happen in a safe way. I just don’t think we’re at that point.”


Watkins, who signaled he would file a bill last month, said it is not unusual for the commission to conduct such a vote ahead of legislation. He said that after the legislation is filed, it would likely head to the Commerce and Labor Committee, which he chairs.


Nathan Lott, spokesman for Keep the Ban, said the group was disappointed with the commission’s vote but not surprised. “The commission has sided with mining interests against the interests of Southside Virginians,” Lott said in a statement. “We are confident that a majority of lawmakers will recognize that Virginia’s current moratorium on uranium mining and milling is sound public policy and will vote to keep it in place.”


In a letter to the commission dated Sunday, McDonnell said he is not ready to weigh in on the debate. “I can say at this point the views appear to be mixed, giving reasons both for and against proceeding forward,” he said. “I feel that I need to wait for the final report . . . before making any decision about whether to take a position on this issue.”


The working group’s final report is expected Jan. 15.

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