Lake Management Plan
Developed by the Lake Advisory Committee of the
Town of Lake Lure
Lake Lure, North Carolina
Submitted – February 1999
Table of Contents
Statement of Purpose
Dam Operations and Sewer System
Dredging and Watershed Stabilization
Fishery and Ecosystem
Recreation and Special Events
Law Enforcement Introduction
Impounded in 1927 as the centerpiece of a real estate development, Lake Lure has had
four different owners in its seventy-year history. The Town of Lake Lure, its present
owner, purchased the dam and the reservoir in 1966. The challenges of owning and
managing a complex facility that includes a hydroelectric plant, sewer system and 27
miles of shoreline are staggering enough for professionals. To do it with a
Manager/Council form of government assisted by volunteers from the community poses
some very interesting questions when developing a comprehensive Lake Management
The slow evolution of management practices has been less than scientific, yet relatively
effective. The necessity for a lake management plan surfaced in 1994 after the first of
several catastrophic floods. Thanks to Mother Nature’s wake-up call and a few phone
calls to NALMS and NCLMS members, the learning curve has gone vertical and
partnerships have been manifesting in all directions. The NCLMS sponsored a Lake
Management workshop at Lake Lure in the fall of 1996. Since then, goals have come
into sharper focus, the network of resources has grown dramatically, and our town’s
residents have a heightened interest in being better stewards of their "centerpiece".
The purpose of this outline is to provide information for the guidance of future Town
Councils, Managers and Committees in their decisions regarding lake issues. A
stringent, highly defined plan may prove more burdensome than effective in the climate
of our rapidly developing community. Therefore we, the Lake Advisory Committee
submit this simple but effective outline that embraces all of the relevant ordinances and
plans for the Town Council to use "as is" or as a platform for developing a more
Possibly the most important recommendation from the Lake Advisory Committee is that
the Town develop and nurture strong partners in the management of Lake Lure. Please
communicate with all of the stakeholders in Hickory Nut Gorge and the different
agencies and organizations that are poised to assist us with the task.
Statement of Purpose
Since it’s construction, the impoundment known as Lake Lure has been utilized as a
multi-purpose facility. Beyond the primary purpose of drawing potential real estate
investors to the Hickory Nut Gorge region, it was an ingenious design that continues to
serve the residents in these numerous ways (numbered in historic priority):
1. Recreation for both residents and visitors:
Swimming: Due to its location near the continental divide and the incorporation
of a sewer system in the original design swimmers enjoy a class B trout water
quality - better than most of the drinking water in the world.
Boating: Thanks to the Town owning the lake, local regulations affecting access
through boat permit fees and establishing safety standards not found on other
lakes, Lake Lure has one of the safest boating records in the state.
Fishing: Once heralded as one of the top fishing lakes in the country, Lake
Lure’s fishery suffered from neglect for many years. Current and proposed
programs are starting to bring it back to its potential.
Water Sports: Water skiing and other forms of water sports activities have been
enjoyed on the lake since it was completed in 1927. Boating and water safety
classes have helped educate participants in past years along with ski clubs that
incorporated safety education into their programs of show and tournament skiing.
2. Hydroelectric Plant:
The purchase of the lake and the hydroelectric plant has been one of the most
important chapters in the Town’s history. The generation of electricity
supplements the tax base and helps the town provide services and maintain the
3. Flood Control:
While this was not the main purpose of the construction of the dam as it is with
other impoundments, the Lake Lure dam does serve this purpose for the
residents around the lake and downstream.
Dam Operations and Sewer System
Town Council, Town Manager, Dam Operator(s) and the Lake Advisory Committee
need to maintain open channels of communication with regard to the operation of the
dam and periodically review situations that exist or develop in the sewer system.
High Priority: The development of a SOP Manual for the Dam / Sewer Plant Operator
that would safeguard the knowledge that has been accumulated over their years of
operating these facilities and possibly not documented. Also, regulatory guidelines
established by Federal, State and Local agencies including the Town of Lake Lure
should be included in this manual.
Maintain contact with North Carolina Dam Safety engineer. Monitor the integrity of the
dam structure, gates and hydroelectric plant and update the Emergency Action Plan in
accordance with their requirements.
Review all of the FERC, EPA and other Federal and State agency requirements with
regard to the operation of the dam and sewer plant annually.
Monitor the structural integrity of the manhole system around the perimeter of the lake
on a quarterly basis.
Establish guidelines for the manner in which property owners can attach sewer lines to
the manholes and elevations and standards for these individual "private" lines that pass
above and below the "shoreline".
Dredging and Watershed Stabilization
Since Lake Lure’s inception 1926, the lake has continuously filled with silt, sand and other debris. Attempts to reverse or slow down this condition have been very expensive. However the alternative of letting the lake become smaller and become a shallow warm water pond is not the answer.
The following outline describes a solution to the long-term sedimentation problem.
Make yearly depth soundings in all critical areas.
Develop maps showing contours of all critical areas.
Continuously dredge the mouth of the Broad River to create a settling area for the silt and sand.
Establish maintenance Schedule for the following areas that require dredging every
three to five years.
1. Tryon Cove
2. The Fairfield Marina area and mouths of the tributaries at the north end of
3. The mouth of Pool Creek and Town Bay area All other areas that accumulate silt/sand should be included in the 10 year dredging permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers. These areas would be prioritized on the maintenance schedule by reviewing the data on the annual depth measurements.
Establish an ongoing dredging operation with the Town’s dredge and expand the
available spoil areas for the dredged material.
Emphasize sediment control in the watershed and lead by example with an enforceable sediment control ordinance.
Support the efforts of the Upper Broad River Watershed Protection Committee and
conservation groups that might assist.
Continue the VWIN partnership with the Environmental Quality Institute at UNCA to
maintain water quality data from all of the lake’s tributaries as well as lake water analysis data.
Because of the unique location of Lake Lure, rapidly growing population, and the
ownership of a high-risk dam it is imperative that the town of Lake Lure have in place the best available emergency plan. This has become especially urgent in view of the
changing weather systems, i.e.: the blizzard of 1993, the winter ice storms, and the Great Flood of 1996. We need not only be prepared for natural disasters, but also for those caused by humans, i.e.: chemical spills, etc.
Lake Lure Emergency Fire Coordinator
Ron Morgan has been our Emergency Fire Coordinator for the last three years. Having an Emergency Coordinator is very important to our town because of the area in which the town lies and the different agencies involved.
Emergency Action Plan
Ron Morgan along with other emergency personnel have been putting together an Emergency Action Plan for the town, and plan to present it to council for approval in 1999, This will address all possible emergencies, identifying them and having a plan of operations for such emergency. Some of these emergencies are:
Evacuation and Transportation during these emergencies
Integrated Flood, Observation and Warning System (IFLOWS)
A system of rain gauges in Western North Carolina. After any problems, we now have IFLOWS in place up river from Lake Lure. When these alarms go off in Rutherford County, 911 alerts Ron Morgan. He in turn notifies the appropriate people. i.e.: William at the dam, the various fire departments, and other designated people.
Emergency Evacuation Centers Emergency Evacuation Centers
There are three primary evacuation centers:
Bald Mountain Country Club
Bills Creek Fire Department
There will be a printed set of Standard Operating Procedures for each shelter agency. Emergency Action Plan and Inundation Map
An engineering firm has been contracted to draw up this plan and map for the town and as guidance for the dam operator. It should be ready for town council by May 1999. Warning Systems for the Populace
Town has applied for a grant for the warning sirens and education funds. The funds for education have been approved and waiting for granting of funds for the sirens. This will be a joint venture with the Village of Chimney Rock. Chimney Rock Village already has one siren. When all is in place there will be sirens up-river from the lake, on the lake, and below the dam. If this project receives the grant, it will be 100% funded. These sirens can be used for other emergencies besides flash floods, i.e.: tornadoes, etc. Fire Boat and Insurance Rates
Using the guidelines of the Insurance Services Offices (I.S.O.) a fireboat and required heated boathouse were looked into - the price was $140,000 - not in our town budget. However, the fire department bought the old police boat for $1.00 and with its demise is in the process of out-fitting a pontoon boat with pumps, etc. There is no promise that this will bring our rates down, but it is possible it may save certain houses. About our fire insurance rates-- class 9 is what we have now. That is the average rate
in North Carolina. The water systems are 50% of the consideration for rates. Other considerations are the fire departments. We are in a class 10 situation; but have a class 9 fire department. The I.S.O. will be here in April, and maybe they will take into consideration our fireboat as we can afford it.
Educating people for emergencies.
Setting up a list of volunteers to help at the municipal center during times of evacuations.
Food pantry for use during evacuation, and other needed items.
Fishery and Ecosystem
The Town of Lake Lure assumed the responsibility of fishery management from the NCWRC in the early ‘90’s. An invitation was made at that time by the Wildlife Commission biologists to rely on them as consultants. A priority should be established to develop a ten-year program and base the type of fish stocked on the lake’s needs
and to examine a delayed harvest type of fishing season.
Select a minimum of three or four sites to distribute the fish
Construct a portable fish chute
Keep the details of the stocking dates from the local media
Negotiate with the vendor for smaller delivery truck and spread out deliveries
over several months during the winter.
Alternate each year between Trout and the following varieties of fish:
When stocking all species of fish, the stocking should take place in the spring or when
the lake is at full pond.
Ecosystem –Cleanliness, Structure and Vegetation
The overall cleanliness of the lake – both water quality and lack of surface
debris – should be a high priority for the Town.
Tree-lap (the fallen trees around the shoreline) should be undisturbed.
Lake should be left at full pond as much as possible to promote vegetation
Christmas trees should be collected and placed in the lake annually with the
guidance of experienced Lake Lure fishermen.
Lake Structures Lake Advisory Committee, Town Council and Lake Structures Appeals Board should
insure that the Ordinance Regulating the Construction and Use of Structures on Lake
Lure be adhered to or adjusted to any changing circumstances that may arise in the
All of the Town’s Boards and Committees should recognize the importance in maintaining a good working relationship with the government agencies that can lend
assistance with the ongoing development and enforcement of this ordinance. The Army
Corps of Engineers, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Rutherford County Building
Inspectors, NCLMS, Isothermal Planning and Development, USDA/NRCS and the
Mountain Valleys RC&D are some of our key allies.
An annual performance review should be done every fall with the Lake Structures
Appeals Board and Zoning Administrator to insure that there are no loopholes or areas
that are creating repeated appeals that may need to be changed.
Communication with Lake Structures Appeals Board
The interaction with the Lake Structures Appeals Board should be no less than on a
quarterly basis and preferably a representative from the LAC should attend their
Revisions and Amendments
Based on the annual review or any other circumstances that may arise, the Lake
Advisory Committee may make recommendations on revisions and amendments to the
ordinance that would enhance administrative execution while maintaining the integrity
of its original framework and purpose.
The Town of Lake Lure should maintain the position of Zoning Administrator or another
staff person that will continue to administer this ordinance.
Recreation and Special Events
Boating, Swimming, Fishing and Water Sports (water skiing, tubing, kneeboarding,
wake boarding, etc.) are addressed in the Town’s Lake Ordinances, which should be
reviewed annually by the LAC.
Placement of "Slow-No Wake" buoys should be examined on a boat tour in the early
spring of each year by LAC.
Sales figures for Boat Permits, Permit fees, Marina Slip rental, and Beach income
should have an annual review in the late fall to check for any expansion in the use of
the lake for determining possible adjustments to fees or ordinances.
Special events, such as fishing tournaments, July 4
th Fireworks, the UVA/USCGA
rowing teams’ spring training and antique boat rallies should be reviewed by the LAC.
The lake is an underutilized recreation facility 9 months a year. The Town should
encourage the Hickory Nut Gorge Chamber of Commerce and other organizations to
plan events around lake based activities with help and input from the LAC.
Explore the possible construction of an aquatic event facility behind the municipal
center – utilizing the berms of the spoil areas as natural grandstands for spectators.
Develop the marsh and point to the east of the municipal center into an outdoor
education center. This could include a greenhouse for aquatic plants (that could be
used to improve the lake’s ecosystem); plaques describing the fragile habitat in the
marsh and a facility that could serve as an outdoor classroom for local schools.
The leasing of the marina and beach to a private venture with more time and financial
interest in promoting special events will hopefully improve the vitality of the Town of
The Town should encourage the development different youth programs that would
utilize the lake throughout the year. Fishing lessons, water sports club events, biology
class field trips, etc.
Water / Boating Safety seminars should be scheduled annually.
The Town has maintained a police presence on the lake since the late ‘50’s when
Police Chief Pye would effectively patrol the lake in-between his fishing. The NC
Wildlife Resources Commission has jurisdiction over the Lake with the enforcement of
the regulations of the State. There are some State regulations unique to Lake Lure
along with the Town’s own boating and lake related ordinances. The Wildlife officer
cannot enforce the Town’s ordinances, but the Town Police Patrol can enforce both.
Some of the documents the Lake Advisory Committee has found helpful to review are:
The annual publications by the US Coast Guard on accidents on the waterways in the
United States and the contributing factors.
The Lake Lure Police Department’s reports on incidents that occur on the lake.
Annual Boat Permit sales figures
The safety and well being of all who use and enjoy Lake Lure should be the top priority
of all discussions and recommendations of the LAC. Future Town Councils and
Committees should be vigilant, not only with maintaining safety, but also be careful not
to over-restrict the activities and watercraft that can be used on Lake Lure. Any new
ordinances should be carefully developed through proper study and designed to fulfill
specific safety criteria to insure the ongoing exceptional record of the lake and still allow
The patrolling of the lake has been a continuing concern of the LAC. Recommendations
over the past few years have centered on frequency of patrol, time of patrols and actual
enforcement of the ordinances rather that issuing warnings. For the safety of all that
enjoy the lake the LAC has always considered the patrolling and enforcement of the
State and Local Ordinances to be a high priority.