In lakes and rivers adjacent to its power plants, scientists from Duke Energy take water samples, survey the fish population, and collect habitat and lake health information throughout the year.
What does that have to do with generating power? The data helps optimize plant operations while also complying with state and federal regulatory requirements that protect the public and the environment.
Duke Energy’s scientific monitoring has been underway for 60 years in some water bodies, allowing the company, governmental agencies and other stakeholders to see long-term trends and confirm that environmental conditions remain healthy for aquatic life and human use.
Samples are handled under strict guidelines and sent to regulators for independent verification, using scientifically established procedures with a robust quality assurance process in the field and the lab.
Lake Norman north of Charlotte, North Carolina, for example, was created by Duke Energy as home to three generating facilities: Cowans Ford Hydro Station, Marshall Steam Station and McGuire Nuclear Station. The company has conducted scientific monitoring of the lake since 1959, collecting more than 20,000 samples with nearly 1.5 million individual test results.
Such tests aren’t limited to areas immediately around generating facilities – the company collects samples from over 70 locations lakewide, including near each public drinking water intake, sharing data with local municipalities. Additionally, semiannual fish testing by Duke Energy scientists demonstrates that fish are healthy and thriving; sample results are independently tested and verified by state resource agencies.
Similar tests (such as water quality monitoring and fish sampling) are conducted across all 27 North Carolina water bodies managed by the company, as well as several waterbodies within South Carolina and Indiana. In sum, decades of scientific monitoring confirm that Duke Energy facilities continue to be safely operated under strict permits designed to protect public health and the environment.