- Public access to the project will begin on March 18, 2023
- Additional recreational improvements to be added in the coming years
GREAT FALLS, S.C. – Public access to a portion of Duke Energy’s Great Falls enhancement project is set to open on March 18, 2023, with scheduled recreation flow releases and the opening of the Nitrolee Access Area. Recreation flow releases to the short bypass reach will begin in May of this year.
“We’re looking forward to sharing these new opportunities with the public,” said Christy Churchill, recreation project manager at Duke Energy. “With improvements like boater access, parking, an interpretive center, trails and, of course, river stretches for novice to experienced canoers and kayakers alike, this area will have a lot to offer the community.”
Duke Energy has nearly completed construction work on the significant recreational and environmental enhancements at Great Falls Reservoir. The project returns water to two river channels that were dewatered when the Great Falls Hydro Station was constructed in 1907, restoring habitat for aquatic life and creating recreational opportunities for the public.
“After working on this project with Duke Energy for many years, we know this is going to be a wonderful boost for economic development in Great Falls,” said Glinda Coleman, the executive director of the Great Falls Hometown Association. “We have been thrilled to be a part of this process and look forward to continued collaboration with Duke Energy on this project and in the future.”
Modification of the dam that creates the long bypass river channel includes the creation of two release points for flow. One will be used to provide a continuous flow for improving aquatic habitat downstream of the diversion dam as well as recreational flow. The other entrance will be used only for flow for recreational use, helping to provide a safe access route into the river for boaters who wish to navigate the more than 2 miles of the downstream river channel. This original section of the river contains Class II and III rapids.
Farther south on Great Falls Reservoir, pneumatically controlled steel gates have been installed on more than 500 feet of the short bypass concrete dams to provide aquatic flow releases, recreation flow releases and flood management. This section of river will be accessed from the Great Falls canoe/kayak access trail on Mountain Island. The river section downstream of this area is approximately 0.75 mile long, and the recreation flow releases will have a rapid flow of water that is expected to create Class III and IV rapids for advanced paddlers.
Beginning spring of 2023, those wishing to enjoy these recreational opportunities should view scheduled recreation flow releases by visiting duke-energy.com/lakes. Recreational releases are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is important to note that water will rise quickly in the bypass channel.
The public can access the long bypass reach from the Nitrolee Access Area, also opening March 18. In addition to parking, restrooms and boat access, the Nitrolee site features an interpretive center about the remains of the original historic Arc Building that was part of the early 1900s Nitrolee fertilizer plant. The site, which is owned by the Katawba Valley Land Trust and leased to Duke Energy, is planned to be connected to the lower Great Falls sites by the Carolina Thread Trail.
Other recreational improvements will be added to further support the Great Falls flow release project in the coming years. The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism also plans to open a new state park later this decade on Dearborn Island at Great Falls. In addition to the new state park, Duke Energy will be constructing a pedestrian bridge to the island as well as two additional canoe/kayak access areas along with other planned improvements to better support the user experiences.
All these public recreational and environmental enhancements were part of the vision for the river and lake system that was negotiated and included in the Comprehensive Relicensing Agreement, a binding contract signed in 2006 by 70 parties to guide relicensing of Duke Energy’s Catawba-Wateree Hydro Project.
Duke Energy Carolinas
Duke Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns 20,100 megawatts of energy capacity, supplying electricity to 2.8 million residential, commercial and industrial customers across a 24,000-square-mile service area in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 28,000 people.
Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business and at least a 50% carbon reduction from electric generation by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The 2050 net-zero goals also include Scope 2 and certain Scope 3 emissions. In addition, the company is investing in major electric grid enhancements and energy storage, and exploring zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.
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