Just the facts about Lake Norman, Relocating? Life in Lake Norman, Schools

Lake Norman Relocation Resources

Lake Norman Resource & Relocation Guide

Lake Norman Aerial photo of the Lake Norman Airpark

Researching the Lake Norman North Carolina area when contemplating a relocation or buying a vacation home is an exciting adventure and it is definitely not just about searching for Lake Norman real estate or waterfront homes for sale. Here is a comprehensive list of Lake Norman related online links to help you learn about our area; from town, county and state government sites to detailed information about area schools, medical services,  golf, boating and recreation on the lake as well as plenty of just plain fun things to discover.

Your first stop may be to The Charlotte Observer. They have a “Lake Norman Neighbor’s” section (see link below) and they publish an annual magazine Living Here at Lake Norman Magazine which is an excellent resource for newcomers. (If you would like a free copy email me…they are hard to come by but I have a few!)

Next, I would bookmark and read all of these great (printed and) online resources for Lake Norman news, community events, restaurant reveiws, sports and recreation, shopping and all about life in Lake Norman:

Finally, below  I have compiled tons of links loaded with information about life in Lake Norman!

OUR TOWNS:

OUR 4 COUNTIES:

OUR STATE:

OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS:

LEARN ABOUT LAKE NORMAN:

FARMERS MARKETS

MY FAVORITE MARKETS

FUN and NIGHTLIFE

NEWCOMERS RESOURCES

RECREATION:

GOLF COURSES

OUTDOOR RECREATION AND WILDLIFE

MARINAS

Boat and Jet Ski Rentals and Charters:

BOATING SAFETY AND OVERSIGHT

SHOPPING/MALLS:

HEALTH CARE/AREA HOSPITALS:

SENIOR SERVICES:

 

RELATED LAKE NORMAN REAL ESTATE ARTICLES:

Relocating to Lake Norman

Lake Norman, Our Inland Sea

60 Things You Should Know About Life in Lake Norman

Are You Ready to Navigate the Waters of Lake Norman?

What You Need to Know About Buying Real Estate In North Carolina

What is it Like Living In Race City USA?

Fresh Sushi? Hush Puppies? The Scoop About Relocating to Mooresville Lake Norman

Mooresville on Money Magazine’s List of Best Places to Live

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Caution: Lake Norman Water Levels Unusually Low Due to Drought

Lake Norman water levels September 2015

 

Our recent moderate drought has hit Lake Norman particularly hard.  Today, according to Duke Energy’s daily lake level chartour lake is at 94.3 almost 4 feet below the target of 98.  If you look at the chart you will notice that Duke Energy has lowered Lake Norman’s level well below the other 16 lakes of the Catawba, Keowee-Toxaway & Broad River.  My guess is this may be in part because we have our dam so they are better able to control our levels and are allowing other lakes to retain more water in case the drought doesn’t end soon.

The wonderful photo above was shared by one of my new favorite Lake Norman blogs:  homeiswheretheboatis.net  in which readers are treated to fun and stunning photos of and articles about her dogs, food/recipes, home decor & decorating ideas, and life in Lake Norman. Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Snow in Lake Norman?

Weather is a big reason why so many people from all over the country move to our Charlotte Lake Norman area.  One common question is about our winters so when I just found this on the WNBC weather report this morning I knew I should share it!  As you can see, last year we had one big storm which brought in 9.3″ although at our house we measured 10″.  The most we have ever had in the past 2 decades is 14.5″.  So far this year we haven’t had any but forecasters are calling for about 1″ tomorrow night.  Sorry Boston, hang in there!

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, lake norman real estate

Why are Lake Norman’s water levels so low in February?

Lake Norman waterfront shoreline in  February

Isn’t it reassuring to know that Duke Energy, who controls Lake Norman’s water levels, has a well designed plan which is monitored daily?  I took this photo today while showing waterfront properties because you can clearly see the different colors of the shoreline riprap which mark the high, medium and lowest lake levels.  The orangish layer closest to the water is under water most of the year. Looking at this, newcomers might think that the lake is abnormally low right now which is true.  However, if all goes as planned February should have the lowest water levels of the year according to Duke Energy.  In fact, today, at 95.7, we are actually a foot above our “target” of 94.5.  The winter draw down of water levels helps us prepare for the spring runoff from the melting snow in the mountains. Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

Lake Norman Waterfront Lots For Sale: $795 and $10 Down!

Lake Norman waterfront home built in the 1970's

The house on the left was built in the late 1970’s and was torn down several years ago; replaced by a new home similar to the one on the right.

Can you imagine that in 1975 you could buy a waterfront lot on Lake Norman for under $1000? In fact, I have met a number of “locals” who sold their waterfront lots for even less than that thinking that they were pretty useless given how remote Lake Norman was before our Interstate I-77 was built.

So why am I writing about Lake Norman’s lot prices from 40 years ago?  It just happens that I attended a great panel discussion last week at Davidson College “Exploding Canons Under the Lake and also began reading the just released book about Lake Norman: A History of Lake Norman, Fish Camps to Ferraris.  I have always been struck by how important it is to put Lake Norman in its historical context to truly appreciate not just how lucky we are today but how many people and places were displaced and lives forever changed in order for us to enjoy our wonderful lives as “Lake People”. Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, Lake Norman News, Events and Celebrations

Lake Norman’s 50th Anniversary Celebration is this Saturday: June 22, 2013

Lake Norman 50th Anniversary photo of dam in progress

Photo courtesy of Visit Lake Norman on Pinterest circa mid-1960’s

Lake Norman is celebrating a major milestone this summer.  50 years ago the 4-year flooding of the countryside of the Catawba River was completed and Lake Norman became a reality!

This Saturday, June 22nd, a celebration of Lake Norman’s 50th anniversary is being held at Queens Landing beginning at 2pm.  This free, family friendly event will feature games and live music by the Gospelaires, Sunny Skyyz and the Rainmakers and the Red Dirt Revelators.  There will also be educational booths set up by the Lake Norman groups who worked to present this celebration including  Duke Energy, The Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationists, Save Our Lake Organization and the Catawba Riverkeeper.

Lake Norman truly was and is an impressive feat.  Construction of Lake Norman, now  the largest man-made lake in the Carolinas, began with a dynamite blast on September 28, 1959.  Once the dam completed in March of 1962,  the waters of the Catawba River began backing up and flooding towns, farms, woods, bridges until it reached the  760-foot sea level line which we now refer to as “full pond”.

A few interesting facts:

  • 33.6 Miles long and 9 miles wide at its broadest point
  • 520 Miles of shoreline
  • 3.4 trillion gallons of water
  • 110 feet deep at its deepest point
  • Named for Norman Atwater Cocke, a former president of Duke Power
  • Cowans Ford Dam hydroelectric station provides power for hundreds of thousands
  • The McGuire Nuclear Station, built in 1981, provides electricity for millions

Want to learn more? Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, Property Tax Rates

Lake Norman property tax rates by county and city

 Lake Norman Propery Real EstateTax

 Lake Norman’s low property taxes are one of the attractions for home buyers considering a relocation to our beautiful area.  However, because Lake Norman falls in 4 different counties and ten towns for prospective home buyers it can be a bit of a challenge trying to get a sense of what their property taxes will be in any given location.

Below are links to all of the county website pages that provide all of the information you will need.  In addition, here are a few helpful hints: Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Lake Norman water levels are down but only temporarily!

 

**For an update on our 2015 lake levels go to:  https://bestrealestatelakenorman.com/caution-lake-norman-water-levels-unusually-low-due-to-drought 

If you live on Lake Norman you can’t help but notice that the water levels have lowered fairly suddenly by about 2 feet which is VERY unusual.  Well, it turns out, according to an update on 9/11/12 on the Duke Energy website, that:

Duke Energy is operating Lake Norman at or below 96.5 feet to support temporary maintenance work at McGuire Nuclear Station through mid-October. This is lower than our target level for this time of year of 98 feet but is within the normal operating range.

Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

Lake Norman Area Wins Top Honors for Economic Development and Donald Trump wants to Make Lake Norman “Magical”!!

 

 

For the 6th time in 8 years, Mooresville-Statesville was named top Microplitan area by Site Magazine thanks to nearly doubling the number of economic development projects in 2011!  And, Governor Perdue recently announced that our state of North Carolina has risen to 4th place for states based upon the number of new and expanded corporate facilities also by Site Magazine.  Both local and state officials say that these awards are evidence of our business-friendly climate.

More evidence of the health of our future ecomony came from a recent Penkse Truck Rental press release that ranked Charlotte in the top 10 of one-way truck rental destinations in the US.

Now, if this isn’t enough evidence of our strong local ecomonic future, guess what “The Donald” said about the Lake Norman area when interviewed recently about his interest in buying The Point Lake and Golf Club  and asked why he targeted the Lake Norman area?

“North Carolina and the Lake Norman Market in particular are a much safer investment than some of the higher-profile resort locations teeming with speculative and unproven markets” according to a recent Business Today article entitled: Trump says Lake Norman market is big draw….Market ‘stable, well occupied’. 

In fact, while in town for his meeting this week with members of The Point Lake and Golf Club in Mooresville, Trump went on to say to the Charlotte Observer:

“We love this piece of land, the lake, the tremendous lake…The views from the (golf) course are magnificent…I think Charlotte has a great future.  I think the whole area is great.  The people, the energy.  That’s why we’re going to be doing this deal…I think we can bring that course to the next level…It will be a magical place.”

Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Lake Norman’s Water Levels are Back Up!

 

**For an update on Lake Norman’s drought 2015 go to: Caution: Lake Norman Water Levels Unusually Low Due to Drought

 

If you live on Lake Norman I don’t have to tell you that our lake levels have been uncharacteristically low since late summer; dropping down to 95.0′ on September 17th which is a full 3 feet lower than our  summer “target” levels of 98 feet.  And, you most probably have also noticed a sudden increase starting on November 16th bringing us up to our current level of 98.7 feet! 

I must admit I am baffled as to why Duke Energy, who manages our Lake Norman water levels, decided to drop them fairly suddenly during a time when our “target” levels were 98 feet and we were not in a drought.  One guess is that they were worried about the potential for Hurricane Irene’s high rain levels.  If any of you all know more, please leave a comment!

For those of you who are new to Lake Norman, the very best resource regarding Lake Norman water levels bar none is Duke Energy’s Check Lake Norman Water Levels website  which Duke Energy updates daily.  On this site you can get the actual lake levels of all 11 lakes that are part of the Catawba River System as well as the “target”” Lake Norman water level for that day, the minimum , maximum, range and any lake message updates.  They also provide a schedule of flow releases and other related data.

Lake Norman is a result of the damming of the Catawba River back in 1963 when the Cowans Ford Dam was completed.  It is part of Duke Energy’s power resources and provides electricity to the Piedmont Carolinas by using the McGuire Nuclear Station and the Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station at the south end of the lake and the Marshall Steam Plant on the west side at Highway 150.  The water levels are controlled by Duke Energy and normally vary less than 5 feet.

The maximum level is called “full pond” which is 760 feet above sea level. Duke Energy considers full pond to be the “the point at which the water begins to spill over the flood gate spillway.” You will sometimes hear waterfront homeowners refer to the “760 line”.

On the Lake Norman Water Level charts, full pond is considered 100.0 feet.  Duke Energy purposely lowers water levels seasonally to anticipate rain or melting of the winter snows that feed the entire Catawba River system.

If you want to see today’s 13-Month Lake Level History chart for Lake Norman  on Duke Energy’s website you can see the daily water levels for the past year.

All I know is the lake looks awesome!

Related Articles

Lake Norman Real Estate: Lake Norman Flooding Unlikely 

Lake Norman, Our Inland Sea

Lake Norman Relocation Resources 

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, lake norman real estate

Lake Norman Real Esate: Property Tax Re-Assessment Update 2011

Lake Norman Real Estate Tax Update

 The Iredell County tax assessor’s office is still about a month away from finalizing its study on property taxes according to a recent article in the Mooresville Tribune.  Questions about North Carolina’s property tax laws and our Lake Norman area tax rates is one of the most frequently asked by my buyers so here is a brief overview of the system as well as an update on 2011.

  • North Carolina law states that all real (real estate) property is subject to ad valorem property taxation meaning a tax is levied on property according to its (market) value. 
  • While the state of North Carolina regulates the taxation guidelines, the basic unit for the actual administration and collection of tax is the county.
  • Cities and towns are also authorized by statute to tax real property
  • Real property is reappraised every 8 years
  • Counties are authorized to make a “horizontal adjustment” in the 4th year of the 8 year readjustment period.  A horizontal adjustment is meant to bring property values in line with current values by the “uniform” application of a percentage of increase or reduction to the appraised values within certain categories or areas.
  • A tax assessment is like a “mass appraisal” of an area as opposed to an individual property

Okay, so very simply this means that 2011 is our 4-year horizontal adjustment period and our Lake Norman counties are finalizing this process that will impact our 2011 property tax bills.

“The trend, in general, is flat to down,” according to Iredell County Tax Assessor Steve Ervin in the Mooresville Tribune article.  However, he went on to say that while property owners may be expecting a dramatic plunge in values, they will not see this due to his analysis which seems to find more optimism in our Iredell County home values.

Probably the most interesting comment was that Iredell County real estate values are at about 2003 levels.

One final note of caution, in the next month or so we will all be receiving a “Notice of Value”.  However, “the actual tax on our properties is a decision of elected officials when they adopt budgets and set tax rates in June of each year” stated Mr. Ervin.  So, we won’t know our new tax rate until our new tax bills are mailed in August.

I hope this information is helpful.  I tried to quote the exact verbiage for accuracy but it may make it sound more confusing than it actually is.

RELATED ARTICLES

Lake Norman Foreclosures, Short Sales and Green Homes, Search Here!

  60 Things About Lake Norman that the Tour Guides Won’t Tell You!

60 Things About Lake Norman that the Tour Guides Won’t Tell You, Part 2

Lake Norman Relocation Resources

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

Life on Lake Norman From a Transplant’s Point of View!

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I do write a lot about why I love living on Lake Norman.  However, this clever email I got from one of my clients recently pretty much says it all.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Diane,

You didn’t tell us we were living next to an airstrip with  low flying traffic.

Landing

Aborted Landing

Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

New Lake Norman Boating Safety Law Now in Effect!

Lake Norman Jet skier

 Lake Norman in the summer is truly a haven for all ages, but especially for kids.  Imagine the freedom and fun for kids as young as 12 must feel when driving their own Jet Ski or boat! It doesn’t hurt that the National Marine Manufacturers Association listed North Carolina, specifically their “Hot Spot”: Lake Norman, as #4 on their list of top 10 “on-the-water” destinations in the US!

A new North Carolina law that went into effect this past May 1, 2010 was passed to ensure our younger boaters are SAFELY enjoying their summer.  It is now mandatory for all boat operators 25-years or younger to pass a Wildlife Resources Commission boating safety class BEFORE heading onto the lake.  According to Senate Bill 43, “no person shall operate a vessel with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater in public waters of this State unless the operator has met the requirements for boating safety education.”  Operators age 25 or younger must carry proof of boat-safety certification…violators will be issued a citation, which requires a court appearance.

Here is a partial list of Lake Norman area boating safety classes:

Lake Norman Sail and Power Squadron

Lake Norman Marine Commission

Lake Norman Marina

If you are heading out on Lake Norman for the first time, no matter what age, it is a great idea to take this safety class and know the rules and regs of the lake.  Do you know what a no-wake zone is or how far from the shoreline you must be before you can go fast enough to make a wake?

It is also really easy for visitors and newcomers to Lake Norman to get disoriented once on the lake.  We always have on hand our lake map with all of the markers and services/marinas and we take a GPS.

For more information there is a great website: Lake Norman Boaters Guide.

Are you ready for the 4th of July?  It’s going to be a great summer…be safe!

RELATED ARTICLES

Lake Norman Real Estate: What Kind of Boat is This?

Fly to Your Lake Norman Home at our Lake Norman AirPark Community!

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

How have recent storms impacted Lake Noman’s water levels?

Lake Norman waterfront home in the snow

 If you live in a waterfront home, you will have noticed that our Lake Norman water levels have been fluctuating quite a bit more than usual this past month!  On January 26th the water levels peaked at 99.2 which is as close to “full pond” as I have seen over the past 5 years.  Today, February 1, the levels are back down to 97.1 which is about normal for our summer months.  However, the “target” level that Duke Energy has established for Lake Norman for today is only 94.0.  See: Duke Energy Website.  (I took this photo yesterday and as you can see our water levels look beautiful.)

The good news is that Duke Energy has the capability of adjusting our water levels along with all 12 lakes that are part of the Catawba River power system.  They purposely lower Lake Norman’s water levels seasonally to allow for the kinds of storms we have had recently.  It is very rare for our levels to exceed 100 or “full pond” so most waterfront homes will notice fluctuations but don’t have to worry about flooding.  This past week Duke Energy brought our water levels back down two feet and never allowed them to reach 100.

However, if your property is in a flood-prone area, whether on Lake Norman or anywhere around Lake Norman, then you should monitor Duke Energy’s website for updates like this one for today:

ACTIVE
Last Update: 2/1/2010 9:19:06 AM
Over the next week to fourteen days, multiple winter weather and/or rain events are forecast for areas throughout the Catawba-Wateree River Basin. As a result, we expect lake levels to remain high, with a high probability for flooding to occur in low-lying and flood-prone areas. As always, we encourage those living along lakes, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone areas to pay special attention to changing weather conditions and take any necessary precautions. We will provide additional updates if conditions change.

Important note to Lake Norman area home buyers:    Be sure to find out if your potential home is in a flood zone.  You will receive “State of North Carolina Residential Property Disclosure Statement” . # 20 on this disclosure asks the seller if they know if the property has experienced a “Flood Hazard or that the property is in a FEDERALLY-DESIGNATED FLOOD PLAIN”.

The bottom line for most of us is that when we do have abundant rains, the lake is more beautiful than ever!

RELATED ARTICLES

Lake Norman Real Estate:  Lake Norman “Flooding Not Likely”

Lake Norman, Our Inland Sea 

Lake Norman Relocation Resources 

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Lake Norman Real Estate: Lake Norman Flooding “Not Likely”

Lake Norman Bridge support with water level marker

  Potential Lake Norman waterfront home buyers ask me frequently about the range of water levels on Lake Norman as well as the possibility of flooding.   The very best resource regarding Lake Norman water levels bar none is Duke Energy’s Check Lake Norman Water Levels website which Duke Energy updates daily.  On this site you can get the actual lake levels of all 11 lakes that are part of the Catawba River System as well as the “target”” Lake Norman water level for that day, the minimum , maximum, range and any lake message updates.  They also provide a schedule of flow releases and other related data.  (Note, the picture above is of a pier on Slanting Bridge which has the lake level markers on it.  You can see that when I took this photo we were just one foot below full pond.) Continue reading

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Lake Norman Real Estate: Lake Levels, Rain and Drought

Boating on Lake Norman and view of waterfront homes

One of the most common questions I am asked, especially by my buyers relocating to the Lake Norman Area, is whether we have flooding, particularly our watarfront properties.

Another question, although not as prevalent these days as it was a year ago when Lake Norman’s water levels were quite low, is about our drought.

About Lake Norman’s Water Levels

If you are thinking about buying waterfront real estate on Lake Norman, the very best source of information about the lake’s water levels AND local drought conditions and water management is the Duke Energy website.

It is important for potential watarfront home owners to understand that Duke-Energy controls and monitors Lake Norman’s water levels which are updated about every 20 minutes on their website.

Full Pond is when “the water begins to spill over the flood gate or spillway. For the purposes of lake levels, we call this level 100 feet.”

Target levels are a forecast of where Duke-Energy expects water levels to be.

Actual is the very lates reading.

According to the reading as of the time of writing this post, Lake Norman’s actual reading is 97.5 and the target is 98.

The MAXIMIUM level is Full Pond. Duke-Energy controls excessive water levels by anticipating upcoming storms and lowering the lake levels slightly as they did during the past several tropical storms, AND by releasing water when levels rise about target levels. See Duke-Energy Lake Message for more information, updates and contact information.

Many of our waterfront homes on Lake Norman are just several feet above full-pond and to my knowledge have never experienced flooding caused by the high lake levels because once the levels hit 100 the water flows over the top of the flood gates or is released by Duke Energy. Always ask the seller for specifics about their home!)

Where flooding does occur in our area is in low-lying areas that are in flood zones or have watershed land next to their homes. It is important, before buying your Lake Norman home, to check with your insurance company to find out if the property is in a flood zone. This information may be disclosed by the seller as well on the NC Property Disclosure.

Update on our drought conditions

There was some very good news this week related to our drought conditions. Thanks to recent rains, Lake Norman is now in the beige area on this North Carolina Drought Map which means we have gone from Extreme Drought to Moderate Drought. Water restrictions have been eased by the counties surrounding Lake Norman. Duke Energy is allowing lake pump use 2 days a week through November 30, 2008. (See their Drought Update.)

We just got approximately 1.2? of rain in the past two days so things are looking good!

I try to check these sites on a regular basis and recommend that if you do so as well!

RELATED ARTICLES

Lake Norman Relocation Resources

Relocating to Lake Norman

Relocating to Lake Norman: What you should consider before buying real estate Part 1

Relocating to Lake Norman: What you should know before buying real estate Part 2

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Just the facts about Lake Norman, Relocating? Life in Lake Norman

Learn all about Lake Norman from THE expert: Gus Gustafson!

If you truly want to learn anything and everything about Lake Norman, there is only one man to turn to: Gus Gustafson! Although I have seen his fishing articles in The Charlotte Observer I had never met him until I had the pleasure of hearing him speak to our Mooresville/Lake Norman Exchange Club this past Thursday.

For some reason I had always expected him to be a crusty old fisherman and I couldn’t have been more wrong! It turns out Gus Gustafson is the Cotton Ketchie of Lake Norman. Yes, he is exceptionally knowledgeable about all aspect of Lake Norman, but his sense of humor and very tall, strong and lively demeanor makes an entire room light up; you would hardly know you are actually LEARNING about Lake Norman or fishing!

Here are just of few of Gus’s credentials:

  • Gus has fished Lake Norman since it was created in the early 1960’s
  • He has his USCG Captain’s License
  • He is the “premier fishing guide on Lake Norman”
  • He has a weekly column, “Fishin’ with Capt. Gus”, which is published in The Charlotte Observer, News at Norman, The Lake Norman Times and many others.
  • Gus’s website: Lake Norman Stripe Fishing, features a weekly column, a monthly fishing forecast, and “Fish Tales and Other Stories Told by Gus”
  • Owner of Lake Norman Ventures Inc which provides everything from fishing guide services to luxury chartered boat tours of Lake Norman to the Lake Norman Laugh Liner!
  • Innovator or seller of boating and fishing products which he sells online on his website.
  • Gus provides speeches and demonstrations to clubs and organizations abut lake issues, boating safety
  • Gus provides fishing clinics and seminars
  • President of Lake Norman Striper Swipers

While you might think that his knowledge and passion is all about fishing you would be terribly wrong. It was clear after hearing him speak that his passion is all about Lake Norman…from the water quality, to the best times of year to visit Lake Norman State Park to when to expect to see Blue Herons, Osprey, Loons and where, down to specific Markers like D4 and D6, to the nature walk and movie at the Duke Energy Explorium.

In his most recent article written on February 10th entitled: Rising Water Levels, Gus writes about lake levels and how they affect fishing, some tips and a list of upcoming events like a new boating course on February 19th “Navigating Lake Norman” held at Mitchell Community College. He also provides current lake levels and a Hot Spot of the Week for fishing.

I plan to hire him to take me and my husband on a long tour of Lake Norman so that I can take my Lake Norman home-buyers out on our boat and introduce them to our incredible lake while viewing homes from the water!

RELATED ARTICLES

  Are You Ready to Navigate the Waters of Lake Norman

Lake Norman Relocation Resources

Relocating to Lake Norman

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Lake Norman: a Look at the Past and its Uncertain Future

 

The news about the drought in the Southeastern part of our country is getting more and more serious. I’ve been assuming and hoping, like our current real estate market news, that the news writers are choosing a more exaggerated perspective on our drought in order to attract more readers. However, when we got a 911 reverse call from Iredell County asking residents to cut their water usage by 50%, read about the looming Stage 4 water restrictions, heard about farmers having to sell off their livestock for lack of food then it really started to hit home. I had simply never even considered that this wasn’t just a fluke and all would return to normal in a few months. Now, like so many others, I am making short term and long term plans for how to best face the drought and related issues.

To better understand the scope of our water sources in the Lake Norman area, it is necessary to look at the big picture; the past, present and future issues related to the entire Catawba River.

On Sunday, The Charlotte Observer started a fascinating week-long series about the Catawba River “A Cry for the Catawba…Join us for a journey along a river at risk” which I highly recommend you read whether you live in Charlotte and get the newspaper or read it online. Sunday’s kick off included an historic timeline for how Duke Power harnessed the river, a huge map of the entire river from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Lake Watertree in South Carolina, and some charts on water usage and statistics about the river.

Written in the context of our current drought, it is a sobering yet wonderful journey from ancient times to today; following the evolution of one very special river which became “a necklace of 11 lakes connected by a few free-flowing stretches” due to the efforts of James Duke starting at the turn of the century and culminating in the damming of Lake Norman in 1963.

The story starts with one man, Arthur Joe Hemphill and his passion to protect the Catawba River. He and his wife Mary, own 328 acres where one of three springs, considered to be “The Source” and where the river begins. “Joe and Mary believe the land…should not be tampered with.” Instead of selling their acreage to a developer they sold an easement to Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The agreement protects the land forever from development…” It then travels through the major lakes along the river’s path and ends at Lake Watertree in SC.

Below is a list of the series of article with links to the two most relevant to Lake Norman. You can access the entire series on the Charlotte Observer’s website as well as they unfold this week. I do have a copy of the Sunday and Tuesday articles including the large map of the entire river with which I would be happy to provide anyone printed copies.

THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER SERIES:

Sunday: The Source of the Catawba River and it’s history

Monday: The Struggle to Save Lake James

Tuesday: A Developer’s view of Lake Norman”

Wednesday: Protecting Mountain Island Lake, Charlotte’s water supply

Thursday: A lakefront landfill at Wylie

Friday: At Landsford Canal, a surprising water garden

Saturday: A revival for Great Falls S.C.

Sunday: At Lake Watertree, how many demands can one river take?

OTHER ARTICLES of INTEREST

Lake Norman Relocation Resources

Lake Norman Sports Resource Guide

Relocating to Lake Norman

10 Things Lake Norman Waterfront Home Buyers Should Know BEFORE buying

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Are You Ready to Navigate the Waters of Lake Norman?

One of the first questions most of my relocating clients ask is something related to some sort of boating/fishing/playing on Lake Norman. I think some people think it’s just a matter of buying a boat and off you go! But, it’s not that simple. Trust me, the first time we went out on the lake we were amazed at just how large the lake really was and how all 520 miles of shoreline kind of look alike. Then, before you know it, a boat is coming right towards you…which way are you supposed to turn? Suddenly you realize that your inexperience and lack of training can not only endanger you but others on the lake as well.

Lake Norman speed-boat-hits-pole

TRY TO AVOID MARKERS!

So here are a few tips I gathered from many sources about what you should do and where you can go to learn about boating on Lake Norman BEFORE launching your vessel:

  • Learn How to Drive a Boat: There is no equivalent of a drivers license for boating but numerous classes are available for boaters of varying skills.
  • Take a Boating Safety Class: You will learn all of the navigational aid and the rules of the water.
  • Learn How to Navigate the Lake: I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have a GPS in our boat. Without it, we would have a much tougher time. At the very least you need a good map that shows you not only all of the coves and islands but also the markers that guide the way. Knowing the shallow points, sandbars, shoals and danger markers could save your boat some serious damage. Our first time out, in a rental boat, we went between two islands and despite my telling the captain (my husband:) that I could see the bottom he continued on while watching his depth meter until we ran aground. A little embarrassing but no damage to the boat.

Lake Norman Shoal warning sign with bird nest

SHOAL MARKER 

  • Have an Experienced Boater Show You the Lake: Our boat salesman took us out on our boat the first day and gave us a complete lesson on how to approach boating on the lake, the do’s and don’t’s and all sorts of great information: AWESOME guy!
  • Don’t Go Small on the Weekend: We actually avoid the weekends whenever possible because the lake can get so crowded and choppy that it just isn’t that fun. If you want to canoe or kayak I would suggest keeping it to the weekdays or early mornings on the weekend. We have a 20′ pontoon boat which we were told is about as small as you would want to be on a busy day on the lake.
  • Don’t Shortcut Points and Islands. Swing around them then to avoid any shallow areas. (Like we did our first time out!)

One of over 100 islands on  Lake Norman

ONE OF THOSE ISLANDS! 

  • Watch Out for Bridges, Docks, No Wake Zones and Other Boaters: At Slanting Bridge Road, one of the bridge pilings still shows a series of cuts where a boat crashed head-on years ago.

No Wake Marker on Lake Norman

NO WAKE MARKER 

  • Know the Lake Level: Is it “Full Pond” which mean there will be less space under bridges. Or, is it 3.6′ lower, like it is right now, which means larger sandbars and more shallow areas.
  • Know the Rules!: Here are some great resources for you: 1. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Lake Enforcement Unit has a great pamphlet “Boating in Mecklenburg County…What every boater should know before launching their vessel”. Email me for a copy or go to www.cmpd.org. 2. One of our all time experts on the Lake Norman is Gus Gustafson. He has his own website:  www.fishingwithgus.com or can be reached at gus@lakenorman.com. He provides very detailed updates on broken or missing markers and Aids to Navigation as well as warnings about rocks, bridge clearances, what boaters should be aware of and even a list of the Ten Dangerous Places on Lake Norman. He also a Professional Sport Fishing Guide on Lake Norman and the author of several books on fishing.

Here are the links:

BOATING SAFETY AND OVERSIGHT

There is NOTHING like taking a quick outing on the Lake even as a lunch break. No matter how stressed I might be, it all melts away. How lucky I am to live here!

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Lake Norman, Our Inland Sea

Lake Norman our Inland Sea

Almost every time we go out on the lake I take a moment to look down as far as I can into the water; wondering if below me lies an old farm, perhaps the village of Long Island or one of the 70 roads now silent below the 32,475 acres of water.

It is truly staggering to realize that in 1904 two sets of brothers, the Dukes and the Wylies and William Lee first met to discuss the beginning of what would result in the creation of Lake Norman in 1964. The culmination of a 60-year dream, this magnificent man-made “inland sea” required the purchase of 33,000 acres of land including homes, family farms, and entire towns. As a REALTOR, I find it particularly interesting that the landowners who traded their farms for pine forest that would front on the future lake referred to it as “worthless land”. Today, “good” waterfront lots start at about $500,000. The 520 miles of shoreline of Lake Norman have become some of the most valuable property in the state.

JUST THE FACTS

  • To put it in perspective for you, Lake Norman has 520 miles of shoreline, the Great Salt Lake has 335, Lake Lanier has 520, Lake Tahoe has 71 and Lake Erie has 871.
  • “Full pond” elevation of Lake Norman is 760 feet above sea level.
  • The deepest point is about 130′ and the average depth is about 25′
  • The water of Lake Norman is used to provide electricity to the Piedmont Carolinas and supply water to most of it’s adjacent cities/counties.
  • Lake Norman is the largest fresh water lake in North Carolina
  • 4 Counties border the lake: Iredell, Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Catawba
  • Lake Norman is 18 miles north of Charlotte
  • Types of fish include: White bass, bluegill, striped bass, rainbow trout, perch, walleye, largemouth bass and white crappie

 

Lake Norman State Park in Troutman

PARKS

  • Lake Norman State Park (camping, boating and boat rentals, fishing, nature, hiking and mountain biking trails, nature programs and picnicking and swimming)
  • Blythe Landing on Lake Norman (6 boat ramps, volleyball, playground, picnic sites with grills, wave-runner rentals)
  • Ramsey Creek Park on Lake Norman (4 boat ramps, fishing pier, picnic shelters and tables, athletic fields, playground and nature trail)
  • Jetton Park (hiking, biking and rollerblading trails, 8 lighted tennis courts, playground, picnic area and sunning beach)

LAKE NORMAN RESOURCES

While it is tempting to get caught up in the fun of lake living, there is also a serious side to address: Water Recreation Safety, Shoreline Management, Soil and Water Conservation and the general preservation of the quality of life around the lake, both man-made and natural.

The regulation of the Lake Norman is the shared responsibility of Duke Energy, and state, recreation and law enforcement agencies in the Carolina’s. Duke Power has a license to run Lake Norman. These address everything from pier permitting (all piers must be permitted!), zoning maps (call 704.382.3676 to get a disc with 10 maps of the lake showing environmental areas and zoning to check any lot you may be interested in developing.), the minimum of 100′ of shoreline that is necessary to build a dock unless grandfathered in prior to new regulations, dredging, hardwalls, stabilization and rip wrap and code enforcement of unsafe docks.

If you are planning to purchase an existing home/property or develop a lot on the waterfront I highly recommend that you get a copy of Duke Energy’s “Shoreline Management Guidelines” book. They also have available “LAKE ACCESS GUIDE: Public Recreation Resources on Duke Power Lakes” which has a great map of Lake Norman and with all of the access areas highlighted as well as what services they provide (gas, restrooms, food etc.)

Informational websites:

  • Duke Power for maps, water levels, piers, lake and shoreline management, access areas: Duke Energy 

While all of our growth and development is exciting, it also is presenting new challenges to those like the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation who are working hard to oversee problems with erosion, sedimentation, buffer and dredging violations, pollution and sewage spills. Some of the most recent issues in the news are the control of erosion due to stormwater runoff which is an increasing problem due to new construction along the shoreline and the enforcement of the state law requiring 30-ft undisturbed buffer from the shoreline. Tree buffers help by filtering pollutants from rainwater runoff and preventing erosion of the banks.

As a REALTOR I know that I have a responsibility to provide as much information as possible to all of my clients who live or plan to live on the Lake Norman shoreline. What was truly an outrageous vision in 1904 has because a spectacular reality that I am lucky enough to enjoy every day. If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned here I will either find the answer or direct you to the appropriate resource to assist you.

Thank you to Bill and Diana Gleasner for their gorgeous book “Lake Norman Our Inland Sea“. I will leave you with one of their poems:

 

Lake Norman Charlotte Observer article photo

 

Our Inland Sea

This valley carved by time and coursing streams

This pool of mountain snows with depths new-found

This vein of strength, born of giant dreams,

This ancient river channel, ocean bound.

Now diamond-riffed coves and bays,

Spacious skies and crystal days,

Arms and fingers reaching wide

Glinting gold at eventide

Cooling cure for August moons.

This gentle flow, this tranquil sea,

This island-studded pleasure dome

This moving thread of majesty,

This watery realm, our blessed home

Diana C. Gleasner

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