What machines lie beneath Lake Norman?
by Staff Writer
MOORESVILLE – While Lake Norman residents appreciate watching a sunset paint the lake’s surface into a rainbow of colors as it slips below the horizon line, few have a firm understanding of what items lie below its gentle waves.
On Oct. 6, a group of dedicated volunteers will participate in “Big Sweep 2012,” an effort sponsored by the Catawba Riverkeepers Foundation. Their goal – rid the lake of litter and promote awareness of the region’s delicate ecosystem.
According to Rick Gaskins, the Catawba Riverkeeper, to aid the clean-up effort. Volunteers can meet at the end of Pinnacle Shores Drive, off N.C. 150 or Lake Norman State Park in Troutman.
According to Rick Gaskins, the Catawba Riverkeeper, volunteers can gather at a variety sites to aid the clean-up effort. Volunteers can meet at the end of Pinnacle Shores Drive, off N.C. 150 or Lake Norman State Park in Troutman.
“Big Sweep has been going on around Lake Norman for about 10 years now,” Gaskins said. “It’s great because it builds people’s awareness of what issues are facing the lake and develops curiosity as they start to ask what else is going on as far as the lake is concerned.”
Formed in 1997, the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is a non-profit that “advocates for the health, protection and enjoyment of the Catawba River watershed.”
“The lake is pretty healthy, but the biggest issues facing it are its interactions with the power plants and the sewage removal systems,” Gaskins said.
“We don’t know with 100 percent certainty the reason behind the high algae and chlorophyll levels in the lake. And the lake’s so large, but the way the state handles it, as though it’s just a wide spot on the Catawba River, is not the best model.”
Faulty septic systems around the lake can deposit untreated waste into the water, allowing harmful bacteria to reproduce and cause algal blooms that decrease oxygen and kill fish. Moreover, McGuire Nuclear Plant uses lake water daily to cool its facilities. This withdrawal of water kills fish and raises the lake’s temperature, according to the Riverkeepers’ Foundation website.
This Saturday, though, volunteers will be on the lookout for contaminants actually discernable by the naked eye.
“You name it, I’ve seen it pulled out of the lake before, anything you can imagine from lawn mowers to washing machines to couches to receiving calls about dead deer floating in the water,” Gaskins said.