Protecting Aquatic Habitats

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Duke Energy serves as an environmental steward by monitoring the rivers and lakes adjacent to its generating facilities, including management of aquatic species across 39 reservoirs in the Carolinas.

For example, from June to October each year, Duke Energy environmental scientists survey nearly 1,800 miles of shoreline from Lake James in western North Carolina to Lake Wateree in South Carolina for invasive plants like hydrilla. If it spreads enough, this weed can affect water flow to power plants, restrict access to boat ramps and swimming beaches, threaten drinking water and harm wildlife habitat.

Similar to how land-based kudzu destroys forests, hydrilla grows quickly and has no native predators – millions of dollars are spent annually across the United States to slow its spread.

Duke Energy serves as an environmental steward by monitoring the rivers and lakes adjacent to its generating facilities, including management of aquatic species across 39 reservoirs in the Carolinas.

Since hydrilla appeared in its reservoirs in the 1990s, the company has worked with management agencies to eradicate the plant by introducing predators like sterile grass carp, applying herbicides and removing plants by hand. Since the easiest and least expensive way to stop hydrilla is to prevent it from taking hold, teams also spend time educating boaters and lake-front property owners about invasive species.

Company scientists do far more than control summer weeds. Others take water samples, survey the fish population, and collect habitat and lake health information year-round. The data is used to optimize plant operations and ensure compliance with state and federal regulatory requirements that protect the public and the environment.

In fact, Duke Energy’s scientific monitoring has been underway for 60 years in some water bodies, allowing the company, governmental agencies and other stakeholders to confirm that environmental conditions remain healthy for aquatic life and human use.