Whitewater days: Nantahala Dam release means high waters on the river Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 29-30
from the U.S. Forest Service
The USDA Forest Service urges users on By-Pass reach of the Nantahala River — commonly referred to by paddlers as the Upper Nantahala — to be alert for rising water levels on Sept. 29-30.
Water needed to generate electricity normally bypasses the river through the mountain and aqueduct into the power house. Duke Energy will increase water flows in the river from the lake to the power house on the Nantahala River for the two-day period to provide kayakers and other boaters with enhanced whitewater recreational experiences. This is the first time since the Nantahala Dam was constructed that such recreational water flows have occurred in this stretch of the river.
The two days are part of a total of eight days per year that Duke Energy will increase water flows from Nantahala Dam to provide high-skill boating opportunities during the recreation season.
On Sept. 29, Duke Energy will release approximately 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water into the river for 7 hours, resulting in Class IV water conditions in the Cascades Section and less-than optimal flows downstream to the power plant. On Sunday, Sept. 30, 425 cfs will be released for five hours, followed by 250 cfs for two hours. The release of 425 cfs results in Class IV+ water conditions on the Cascades Section and Class III-IV downstream. The release of additional water through the bypass will result in higher than normal flows on the main Nantahala River.
Only skilled boaters should attempt to paddle on the Nantahala River on Sept. 29-30. Fishermen are advised to avoid this region of the Nantahala River until water levels decline.
Endless Rivers Adventures and the Nantahala Outdoor Center will provide free shuttles to boat launch areas. Shuttle pick-up will be located on Duke Energy property immediately adjacent to the national forest put-in along state Road 1310, the Wayah Road. Shuttles will also be provided to run multiple laps of the Cascades Section.
The Forest Service requests paddlers and spectators to use the free shuttles as the access points will be closed to parking. For a vicinity map of the closed roadside parking areas and shuttle pick-up point, click here
Duke Energy, in partnership with Western Carolina University, will seek public comments on the success of the enhanced boating opportunities. Additionally, paddlers can email feedback to the Forest Service at NantahalaRD@fs.fed.us.