WELCOME TO HYCO LAKE, NC
Hicotaminy is what the
native Indians called the area which means "great turkey buzzard".
Seems the turkey buzzards have been around a long time since we still
see them daily at Hyco as we now call it.
Hyco Lake (also known as
Carolina Power Lake) was constructed in the early 60's by Carolina
Power and Light Company (now Progress Energy) as a cooling reservoir
for their steam electric generating plant. Hyco Lake is located in
Person County, NC 10 miles west of Roxboro, NC on NC Highway 57.
Since its establishment, the lake and its recreation park has been
under the jurisdiction of the Person-Caswell Lake Authority which is
responsible for governing and developing the recreation potential of
the lake and park. The water is regulated by the N.C. Natural Resources. CP&L
(Progress Energy) owns the land the lake is contained by and up to the 420' mark
which is approx 10' above normal water level.
The lake covers 3,750 acres (25 billion gallons of water!) with 120 miles of shoreline. The lake was filled in the Spring of 65 after Hurricane Hilda dumped her bounty and has provided exceptional outdoor recreational opportunities which continue to delight residents and visitors alike. The lake was constructed on the Hyco River and has 3 main tributaries, North Hyco Creek, South Hyco Creek and Cobbs Creek.
Over 1400 homes have been constructed around the lake with
approximately 800 being occupied year round.
North Carolina General Assembly -
1965 Session - Establishment of the Person-Caswell Lake Authority
Read the full bill establishing
the guidelines that the PCLA operates under.
here) The basic parties that are
involved with the lake are: North Carolina Department of Environmental
Management - Water Quality Division, N.C. Wildlife Commission,
Progress Energy and Person-Caswell Lake Authority. Progress
Energy purchased the land and impounded the water so P.E. owns the
land under the water and up to the 420' mark. The NCDEM
basically owns the water in the lake and sets the guidelines that P.E.
and PCLA have to adhere to. Failing to adhere to the laws may
result in a fine or worse case non-renewal of the operating permit for
the lake to P.E. The PCLA is responsible for the management of
the water and lands around the lake. The NC Wildlife Commission
is responsible for the safety, wildlife, game and fish around the
lake. Property owners lease the right to use the water front
based on the guidelines established by PCLA. The PCLA operates
under the same public laws as County Commissioners which is General
Statute 153-A which can be found at this link:
MAYO LAKE - There
have been many questions concerning the differences in Hyco and Mayo
Lake concerning the boat docks and development of the shore
line. Basically, the NCDEM would only allow P.E. to build Mayo
if they agreed to not allow development of the shore line around Mayo
Lake. The reason being that by impounding the lake, there were
several "fur bearing" animals that would be displaced by the
water which concerned the NCDEM. NCDEM required as part of the
permit that P.E. not allow any disturbance of the land from the water
level to the high water mark - no clearing of the land, no planting of
grass, no boat docks - nothing could be done to change the
landscape. In fact, the surrounding land owners are suppose to
replace any trees, undergrowth, weeds or anything else disturbed even
by pathways going to the lake. The fur-bearing animals are not
to be encroached on in any way. This is a requirement by the
NCDEM and P.E. is charged with enforcement. The operating permit
and possible fines are a serious concern of P.E.
Irrigation at Hyco
the lake is not allowed. During the permitting of the lake with
NCDEM, it was established that irrigation from mostly nearby tobacco
fields is detrimental to the lake by the washing of fertilizer in the
lake. Fertilizer contains phosphate, nitrogen and other minerals
that cause algae and other concerns in the lake. Also, there are
additives in fertilizer that may kill the fish. Of course the
other issue is that water consumption by irrigation may deplete the
water and cause operating issues at the power plant. The
critical level at the plant is at 10' below normal with some problems
occurring as soon as 7' below normal. Without water, the plant
cannot operate which is a huge concern to Progress Energy and their
customers. Water contamination concerns are also the reason
toilets are not allowed below the 420' line.
Boating and Swimming
Several dual concrete boat ramps offer easy launching from the recreation park located off Kelly Brewer Road. Boardwalks and piers also aid in launching and a graveled parking area is lighted and policed. Boat permits
($50 annual and $15 daily) are required for all boats using the lake. A ski course is located on the north east end of the lake.
The park offers a nice swim area and numerous docks to tie your boat to. The swim area is unattended and closes at sunset.
Covered boat/camper storage areas are available.
There are 60 camp sites located within the 65 acre recreation park. Each site is located on an access road and has a natural buffer on three sides. A picnic table, charcoal grill, water and electricity are available to each site. The campground has a centralized bath house (very clean) with showers and flush toilets. Playgrounds for the children and tennis courts for the adults are located next to the camp sites. Pets must be leashed. Vending machines are available 24 hours a day April through September. Other food items, fishing supplies, and water front gasoline can be purchased within walking distance of the campground and less than 1 mile from the launch ramps.
There are picnic tables and
charcoal grills located around the park shoreline and are available
on a first come first served basis. Four large covered shelters with
grills are available by reservations made with the Lake Ranger at 336-599-4343. There are no charges, other than gate admission, for using the tables and shelters. These facilities offer great views of the lake. Don't miss the view from the observation deck! A new community house has been added which is an excellent facility for large meetings and social functions. Kitchen, baths, full decks and HVAC insures your comfort. There are also day cabins available for rent on the point at the public access area. Contact
the Ranger for rental rates of the cabins and community house.
Fisher people, the park is equipped with an electric gate and access is available 24 hours a day. Fishing on Hyco is great (lots of Bass and Crappie). Numerous fishing tournaments are held throughout the year. The warm water discharged by the power plant insures year round fishing opportunities.
In the past, there have been some fish that suffered from lower levels of oxygen. This usually happens during July when the sun is the hottest and rain is infrequent. The water stratifies during this time with the hot water rising to the top thus creating a buffer layer. When it rains, the oxygen saturated water falls on top of the hot layer and then travels down to a lower layer thus taking the oxygen down to the fish who have gone deep to seek colder water. Aeration and cooling of the water is beneficial to the fish during these times.
Enjoy the water side view of the many beautiful homes on the lake or find a deserted cove to anchor and relax. Large areas of the shoreline are undeveloped and offer exceptional views throughout the year. Watch for the many deer, beaver, geese, and ducks which make the lake their home. There is also a nature/walking trail located near the ranger's office. The head-end is accessed from the fisherman's parking lot - look for the covered entry point marking the starting point. Many gazebos are located along the path and nature points are marked.
Lake Level - and Canal System
There are many misconceptions about how the lake level is controlled and what the canal system function is/was. The lake is impounded by an earthen dam near McGhee's Mill area. There is a concrete spillway that water overflows at elevation 410.5'. This is called normal lake level
or "full pond". There are no valves or gates on the main lake that control the level. When there is rain or the incoming creeks provide more water than needed, the water flows over the spillway. The power plant is a closed system so it only uses the lake for make-up water and cooling. The cooling tower vapor you see is water evaporating as the plant steam is condensed back to water. The two systems are separated by a heat exchanger called a condenser. Lake water used for cooling units 1&2 circulate via an intake canal near Whetstone and discharge heated water near the islands where North and South Hyco meet near the plant. There is a Howell-Bunger valve located at the spillway that can allow a small amount of water to by-pass the spillway. This hasn't been opened in years. The Afterbay is located below the main lake and is used to maintain downstream river flow for Hyco River. The level of the lake declines during the summer due to reduced stream flow coming into the lake, increased evaporation by the plant cooling towers and higher plant load during the summer months - no one is releasing water from the lake during this time. When there is excessive rain, the level rises above normal (410.5') as the water is "bottle-necked" at the spillway. The level will return to normal as soon as the spillway dissipates the water without any human intervention.
The canal system is no longer used as this was an early attempt to utilize long flow paths to cool the water before it re-entered the plant condensers. This was before the plant had cooling towers
and once the cooling towers were added, the canal system was
abandoned. CP&L is required by regulations to release the water at a minimum rate in cubic feet per minute and within a few degrees of the temperature of the incoming water. This all occurs at the Afterbay. The water temperature discharged by the plant normally gains about 20-25 degrees from the intake point to the discharge point. This is why you can swim early and late in the year near the plant. There is an "inverted siphon" located under the no wake area area where you go from South Hyco near the island. The siphon carried warm water from the canal to Cobb's Creek area but is no longer used. This is why you see a chain link fence atop this rock dam. The water flowed backwards up Cobb's Creek and traveled through the canal near the public area into North Hyco. This caused severe heating of the water and thank goodness is no longer used.
The lake temperature is moderated
by the plant resulting in winter water temperatures hovering near 50
degrees at the coldest period. This results in fishing and some
avid wet suit skiing during the winter.
"Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints"