Debris flows through Lake Wylie amid upstream flooding
Lake Wylie sits near its flood point, as several lakes upstream already have breached theirs amid heavy rainfall.
Brown water and debris — including pieces of docks and a gazebo railing — flowed through the middle of Lake Wylie near the Buster Boyd Bridge as people stopped to take pictures Monday afternoon.
As of 2:05 p.m. Monday, Lake Wylie sat just inches below its full pond level. Full pond is the point where lakes begin to overflow. For comparison, the target level Duke Energy has for Lake Wylie is three feet below its full pond.
Lake Wylie has been on a steady rise since June 6. Then the lake was at its target, more than two feet lower than it is today. Duke Energy, the company managing reservoirs along the Catawba River, put out emergency lake notifications Monday morning noting upper parts of the river basin have seen 11 inches of rainfall and more is forecast.
“The Duke Energy hydro operations team is aggressively moving water through the river system with floodgates open at Wylie, Fishing Creek, and Cedar Creek hydro stations,” reads the lake notice. “The Wateree Hydro station continues to generate all five generators.”
The 2:05 p.m. update notes Lake Wateree, the downstream reservoir on the chain, is expected to spill on Tuesday by perhaps more than two feet.
“We will provide updates as conditions change,” reads the lake message. “As always, we encourage those living along lakes, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone areas to pay special attention to changing weather conditions and take any necessary precautions.”
Lake James, the headwaters in the basin, is more than two feet beyond its full pond already. Lake Rhodhiss is more than three feet above its full pond. Lookout Shoals Lake is more than four feet higher and Mountain Island Lake, Wylie’s nearest upstream reservoir and the source of Charlotte drinking water, is five feet above its spill point.
Lake Dearborn in the Great Falls area, downstream of Wylie, is above its full pond and four lakes — Hickory and Norman upstream, Wylie and Fishing Creek downstream — are within a foot of full pond. Cedar Creek downstream has reached full pond.
With all the water Duke was running, Wateree was just below its target and three feet below its full pond Monday morning.
Residents and businesses along Lake Wylie typically have less to worry with when it comes to flooding. Wylie and Lake Norman are much larger than many reservoirs on the chain, and along with Lake James, create flood protection as Duke can store or run water to even out levels throughout the basin. The larger lakes often drop intentionally ahead of major rain forecasts like hurricanes.
As of Monday morning, Lake James is further above its full pond than Lake Norman and Lake Wylie are below theirs.
Water is causing several issues in the area. On Sunday morning, Tega Cay crews began work to repair a water main break off Executive Point. A boil water advisory was issued for water customers on Executive and Triton Drive through Monday. In Rock Hill, canoe/kayak launches have been closed until water levels on the Catawba return to safe conditions.
The York County Sheriff’s Office shared a photo of a flooded trail access to Riverwalk, telling people not to access the area. The sheriff’s office also noted the Fort Mill river access is closed until further notice.
Tega Cay police tweeted photos Monday morning showing flooding in the Fort Mill river access parking lot.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the most recent data for June 10 for the Catawba River near Rock Hill shows the river is flowing at 58,800 cubic feet per second.
Local kayak rental company Rockin River Adventures, though closed for the 2019 season, suggests only experienced paddlers try to kayak at rates up to 6,000 cubic feet per second.
The current river flow rate is almost 10 times that recommendation.
Not all heavy rain changes are safety threats. Late last month the South Carolina Forestry Commission issued a Red Flag Fire Alert asking residents not to burn yard debris due to the threat of sparking wildfire. Communities in York, Lancaster and Chester counties asked residents to avoid burning. Fort Mill temporarily banned it.
With the rain, though, the ban and alert have been lifted.
Check back for more.