2015 Drawdown



The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) granted Appalachian Power Company (Appalachian) a license to operate the Claytor Hydroelectric Project December 27, 2011. As part of the approved Water Management Plan (Article 405), Appalachian may conduct non-emergency reservoir drawdowns upon mutual agreement between the licensee and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR), Pulaski County, the New River Planning District Committee, and the Friends of Claytor Lake (FOCL) following appropriate public input as determined by VDEQ.

At least three months prior to implementing a non-emergency reservoir drawdown, Appalachian

is required to file with the Commission, for approval, a reservoir drawdown plan. The purpose of the drawdown plan is (1) to minimize the impact of a drawdown to aquatic resources in the project reservoir and (2) to allow shoreline property owners to conduct shoreline maintenance activities. The plan filed with the Commission is to be prepared in consultation with the FWS, VDEQ, VDGIF, VDCR, Pulaski County, New River Planning Commission, and FOCL, all of whom will have 30 days to comment on the proposal.

Efforts began in 2011 through Pulaski County’s Claytor Lake Technical Advisory Committee (CLTAC) to modify previous drawdown plans for shoreline maintenance to decrease impacts to mussels. (The CLTAC includes representatives from a majority of the above referenced agencies.)   Modified drawdowns were held in 2011 and 2012 according to plans developed through the CLTAC.  A 2014 drawdown plan was developed through the CLTAC and approved by the Commission, but prior to implementation the drawdown was cancelled at the request of Pulaski County due to problems with the County’s water intake in the lake.  Below is CLTAC’s proposed 2015 drawdown plan which duplicates the 2014 plan. 

2015 Drawdown Proposal

1. Conduct drawdown from November 7 through November 15, 2015. (Drawdown scheduled during

early November to avoid freezing temperatures, and to minimize the impact to recreation.) 

2. Depth of drawdown to be three feet from full pond elevation of 1846 NGVD.

3. Lake level to be drawn down one foot per day starting 8 a.m. on November 4, 2015 to reach 1843 NGVD by 8 a.m. Saturday, November 7, 2015.

4. Duration of the drawdown to be nine days, including two weekends.

5. Lake to be allowed to begin refilling at 10 p.m. Sunday, November 15, 2015, with targeted return to normal elevation by 10 p.m. Wednesday, November 18, 2015.

6. Appalachian to inform public of drawdown at least 45 days prior to implementation. 

7. FOCL to encourage participation and publicize information about drawdown and mussel salvage  through media, mailings, phone calls and internet.  Information to include distinction between Asian Clams, pistolgrip mussels and other mussels, and the importance of mussel salvage. 

8. FOCL to gather information about drawdown usage and mussel salvage from landowners and volunteers.  (Send drawdown questionnaire card just prior to drawdown.) 

9.  Volunteer mussel salvage event to be conducted on the first Saturday of full drawdown to increase number of dewatered mussels returned to the water.  (As in 2012.)    Team leaders, boat transportation, materials, meeting locations, volunteers and volunteer recruitment, refreshments and organization to be provided by FOCL, VDGIF, Appalachian, Claytor Lake State Park, Pulaski County and others.

a.  Conduct meetings for organizers and team leaders prior to the event, including during the week of the event and on Saturday morning prior to the arrival of volunteers, to organize the event, and train and coordinate team leaders in mussel identification, location (GPS) and data collection, site and volunteer selection, distribution of materials and logistics of the event.

b.  Volunteer training to be provided by VDGIF prior to deployment in teams with team leaders Saturday morning.  Volunteers to be trained in returning mussels to the water and provided information with which to distinguish between Asian Clams (not to be salvaged), and pistolgrips and other mussels.  Volunteers to be provided information prior to the event on what to expect and how to come prepared.

c.  VDGIF to provide up to three teams experienced in mussel identification to identify and tally mussels by species; other volunteer teams to focus on counting and salvaging total numbers of mussels.  (Volunteers to identify only pistolgrip mussels.) 

d.  Appropriate data collection sheets to be provided.

e.  Mussel salvage sites to be selected and prioritized based on likely mussel habitat and previous mussel findings.

f.  Hours of event to be organized to optimize volunteer time.

g.  Adequate food and drink to be provided. 

h. Coordination with mussel salvage by other entities, such as the Claytor Lake State Park, to be continued.

10. Regulatory agencies to have 30 days beginning no later than April 15, 2015 to comment on the drawdown plan prior to Appalachian’s submission to the Commission.

11.  Appalachian to file the drawdown plan with the Commission no later than June 1, 2015 to allow for the Commission’s required three month review period.  Included with the filing will be documentation of consultation with stakeholders as required in Appalachian’s license.

12.  Summary report following drawdown to be prepared through CLTAC with assistance from FOCL, VDGIF and others as needed.   

13.  Future drawdown plans to be based on the previous years’ results, and revised as appropriate.

14.   Drawdowns to be proposed for every other year to allow for mussel repopulation and shoreline maintenance.  (Change from previous annual drawdowns.)

Claytor Lake






October 6, 2015
Re: Claytor Project No. 739
Water Management Plan
2015 Drawdown of Claytor Lake

Dear Resident:

In cooperation with Friends of Claytor Lake (FOCL) and Pulaski County, Appalachian Power Company (Appalachian) requested and received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) for a temporary drawdown of the Claytor reservoir during November 2015.  The purpose of the drawdown is to provide property owners an opportunity to perform shoreline stabilization, cleanup and other maintenance related activities along the shoreline1.  Vegetation removal from within the Project boundary (generally the 1850 foot contour elevation and below) is not allowed unless prior approval is obtained from Appalachian.  The Commission approved the request on June 30, 2015. 

The 2015 drawdown is scheduled to begin Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 8 am.  The reservoir will be lowered one (1) foot per day until it reaches the 1843 foot contour elevation (for a total of 3 feet) on Saturday morning morning, November 7, 2015.  The reservoir will start refilling on the evening of Sunday, November 15, 2015 with a target date of being back to normal elevation by Wednesday evening, November 18, 2015.  Water levels may fluctuate between three to four feet down from full pond (1846 feet) during the drawdown period. 

Commission approval was based on a drawdown plan2, developed in consultation with FOCL, Pulaski County and various state agencies.  The drawdown plan includes proposed mitigation for impacts to mussels.    This is where you come in.  Mitigation for 2015 includes efforts to increase mussel salvage during the drawdown.  This means we need your help in returning mussels (pictures attached) to the water if they are stranded along your shoreline during the drawdown.  If you see mussels along the shoreline, please pick them up and gently toss them 5-10 feet into the water.  Complete the postcard that you will receive in FOCL’s October newsletter to document your efforts and mail the completed card to FOCL.  If you do not receive the FOCL postcard for some reason or would like additional information regarding mussel salvage efforts during the drawdown, please visit FOCL’s website, www.focl.org.  A mussel salvage event will be held Saturday November 7 during which organized teams of volunteers will walk along the shoreline returning mussels to the water. If you would like to participate in the mussel salvage event, contact Laura Bullard at 540-392-3055 or sunnyside@psknet.com.

For those who participate in the mussel salvage, please note that Asian clams do not have to be returned to the reservoir.  A picture of an Asian clam is attached.

Please note that the drawdown may be cancelled or reduced on short notice if inflows are insufficient to refill the reservoir in a timely manner or if a flood event occurs.  The public will be notified via a press release if the drawdown is cancelled.        

Elizabeth B. Parcell
Process Supervisor Senior

1 A permit is required from Appalachian for new shoreline stabilization projects or dock expansions.  Vegetation may not be removed from within the project boundary (generally the 1850 foot contour elevation) unless authorized by Appalachian.  Please contact Wayne Alexander at wmalexander@aep.com or 540-985-2469 if you have questions.  A Pulaski County permit is also required for dock expansions.  A permit is needed from the Corps of Engineers (COE) for shoreline stabilization (NW13 for bank stabilization) or dredging (Regional Permit 40).  Contact Pulaski County or COE if you have questions regarding their permit requirements.     

2 A copy of the drawdown plan can be found on www.claytorhydro.com.    

Additional information regarding mussels:
There are five species found in Claytor Lake & Typical Size

Giant Floater (Pyganodon grandis) 70 – 110 mm
Pocketbook (Lampsilis ovata) 70 – 110 mm
Pistolgrip (Tritogonia verrucosa) 70 – 100 mm
Paper Pondshell (Utterbackia imbecillis) 40 – 70 mm
Purple Wartyback (Cyclonaias tuberculata) 70 – 90 mm 

The pistolgrip is currently listed as a state threatened species. If you find a suspected pistolgrip mussel, please take a digital photograph, call Brian Watson immediately at (434) 941-5990, and return the pistolgrip to the water.  Photographs should be emailed to Brian Watson at Brian.Watson@dgif.virginia.gov.  Please limit the number of photographs of each mussel to a maximum of two and limit the size of each photo to 1 MB.   

* Smaller or larger individuals may still be found.
Asian Clam (do not need to be returned to the reservoir):

Claytor Lake