Lake Lure dam
The town of Lake Lure is preparing to undertake a cost repair project on its dam after years of what the town’s engineering consultant has called “neglect.” Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

Welcome to The Kicker from Carolina Public Press, a North Carolina news show bringing you conversations with journalists, sources and newsmakers from across the state. In this episode, host and producer Peter Kent talks with Carolina Public Press Managing Editor Frank Taylor about the status of and threats to dams across North Carolina, in light of recent flooding related to Hurricane Florence.

In this episode, we discuss:

Money, money, money

The North Carolina lakeside town best known as the setting for the film Dirty Dancing is dealing with a threatened dam that needs $5 million to repair. Plans to fix the problems are now facing delays.

The costs of dam repairs and maintenance contributed to one North Carolina county trying to sell the management of its water system to an out-of-state entity, in a nearly unprecedented (in North Carolina, anyway) move that ultimately failed.

One Montgomery County man wanted to know what would happen if the dam creating Lake Tillery failed. What he found out was, among other things, that the county wanted to bill him $3,000 to answer his questions.

Coal ash

Right now, nearly any talk about dams in North Carolina will eventually lead to coal ash basins. We’ve reported on coal ash dams for more than two years, including how, in 2016, state environmental regulators then said they planned to focus on coal ash basin dam safety. Earlier that year, residents around the Cliffside coal ash basin contested statements that the dam there was ‘low-risk.’

Now, after Hurricane Florence, a dam breach in eastern North Carolina, alongside Duke Energy’s L.V. Sutton power plant, sent coal ash into the Cape Fear River.

The Kicker: North Carolina dams and floods

Endangered rivers

Dams impact multiple waterways across the state, including, notably, the Catawba River. American Rivers, a Washington-based environmental advocacy group, featured the 225-mile-long Catawba River as one of America’s top 10 most endangered rivers in 2013. It was the waterway’s third time on the list since 2001.

Resources on NC dams

Want to learn more, especially the status of a dam in your community? Here are a few resources to bookmark:

Coming up on The Kicker

Tune in and chat with us live. Our next show is Oct. 11, from 3:30-4 p.m. We broadcast live on Facebook and on the radio from WPVM FM 103.7, in Asheville, and online at Shows are recorded, so you can listen any time on

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Made possible by: This episode of The Kicker is made possible through the financial support of donors like you, foundations that support Carolina Public Press’s mission, and, an independent community radio station based in Asheville, N.C. Show your support here.

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