The Pulaski County Public Service Authority and the Pulaski County staff have reluctantly asked Appalachian Power Company to delay the anticipated November 2014 drawdown to November of 2015. There has been a significant increase in silt deposited adjacent to the PSA water intake in the past year. Short-term dredging and a long-term redesign of the intake have been initiated but there are too many factors outside the control of the PSA staff to risk the chance of a significant interruption of water service to residents and businesses. Logistical and regulatory difficulties prevented implementation of dredging operations prior to the drawdown and it was not possible to delay the drawdown due to likely deterioration in weather conditions as we move into December. As a result, the PSA was at significant risk of an extended loss of water to approximately half of the PSA’s water customers including several major industrial employers. Efforts to address siltation issues will continue in anticipation of possible winter storms and preparation for a three-foot drawdown in the early November 2015.
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2014 CLAYTOR LAKE DRAWDOWN PLAN
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) granted Appalachian Power Company (Appalachian) a license to operate the Claytor Hydroelectric Project December 27, 2011. As part of the approved Water Management Plan (Article 405), Appalachian may conduct non-emergency reservoir drawdowns upon mutual,agreement between the licensee and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR), Pulaski County, the New River Planning District Committee, and the Friends of Claytor Lake (FOCL) following appropriate public input as determined by VDEQ.
At least three months prior to implementing a non-emergency reservoir drawdown, Appalachian
is required to file with the Commission, for approval, a reservoir drawdown plan. The purpose of the drawdown plan is (1) to minimize the impact of a drawdown to aquatic resources in the project reservoir and (2) to allow shoreline property owners to conduct shoreline maintenance activities. The plan filed with the Commission is to be prepared in consultation with the FWS, VDEQ, VDGIF, VDCR, Pulaski County, New River Planning Commission, and FOCL, all of whom will have 30 days to comment on the proposal.
Efforts began in 2011 through Pulaski County’s Claytor Lake Technical Advisory Committee (CLTAC) to modify previous drawdown plans for shoreline maintenance to decrease impacts to mussels. (The CLTAC includes representatives from a majority of the above referenced agencies.) Modified drawdowns were held in 2011 and 2012 according to plans developed through the CLTAC. Below is CLTAC’s proposed 2014 drawdown plan based on results and recommendations from the 2011 and 2012 drawdowns.
2014 Drawdown Proposal
1. Conduct drawdown from November 8 through November 16, 2014. (Drawdown scheduled during
early November to avoid freezing temperatures, and to minimize the impact to recreation.)
2. Depth of drawdown to be three feet from full pond elevation of 1846 NGVD.
3. Lake level to be drawn down one foot per day starting 8 a.m. on November 5, 2014 to reach 1843 NGVD by 8 a.m. Saturday, November 8, 2014.
4. Duration of the drawdown to be nine days, including two weekends.
5. Lake to be allowed to begin refilling at 10 p.m. Sunday, November 16, 2014, with targeted return to normal elevation by 10 p.m. Wednesday, November 19, 2014.
6. Appalachian to inform public of drawdown at least 45 days prior to implementation.
7. FOCL to encourage participation and publicize information about drawdown and mussel salvage through media, mailings, phone calls and internet. Information to include distinction between Asian Clams, pistolgrip mussels and other mussels, and the importance of mussel salvage.
8. FOCL to gather information about drawdown usage and mussel salvage from landowners and volunteers. (Send drawdown questionnaire card just prior to drawdown.)
9. Volunteer mussel salvage event to be conducted on the first Saturday of full drawdown to increase number of dewatered mussels returned to the water. (As in 2012.) Team leaders, boat transportation, materials, meeting locations, volunteers and volunteer recruitment, refreshments and organization to be provided by FOCL, VDGIF, Appalachian, Claytor Lake State Park, Pulaski County and others.
a. Conduct meetings for organizers and team leaders prior to the event, including during the week of the event and on Saturday morning prior to the arrival of volunteers, to organize the event, and train and coordinate team leaders in mussel identification, location (GPS) and data collection, site and volunteer selection, distribution of materials and logistics of the event.
b. Volunteer training to be provided by VDGIF prior to deployment in teams with team leaders Saturday morning. Volunteers to be trained in returning mussels to the water and provided information with which to distinguish between Asian Clams (not to be salvaged), and pistolgrips and other mussels. Volunteers to be provided information prior to the event on what to expect and how to come prepared.
c. VDGIF to provide three teams experienced in mussel identification to identify and tally mussels by species; other volunteer teams to focus on counting and salvaging total numbers of mussels. (Volunteers to identify only pistolgrip mussels.)
d. Appropriate data collection sheets to be provided.
e. Mussel salvage sites to be selected and prioritized based on likely mussel habitat and previous mussel findings.
f. Hours of event to be organized to optimize volunteer time.
g. Adequate food and drink to be provided.
h. Coordination with mussel salvage by other entities, such as the Claytor Lake State Park, to be continued.
10. Regulatory agencies to have 30 days beginning no later than April 15, 2014 to comment on the drawdown plan prior to Appalachian’s submission to the Commission.
11. Appalachian to file the drawdown plan with the Commission no later than June 1, 2014 to allow for the Commission’s required three month review period. Included with the filing will be documentation of consultation with stakeholders as required in Appalachian’s license.
12. Summary report following drawdown to be prepared through CLTAC with assistance from FOCL, VDGIF and others as needed.
13. Future drawdown plans to be based on the previous years’ results, and revised as appropriate.
14. Drawdowns to be proposed for every other year to allow for mussel repopulation and shoreline maintenance. (Change from previous annual drawdowns.)