Lake Wateree enhancements underway

LAKE WATEREE – Major improvements to recreation and picnic areas around Lake Wateree that have been in the planning stage since 2006 are now underway full steam, according to John Crutchfield, a representative from Duke Energy, who updated county council members Monday night on the construction process.

Among 89 sites to be improved by Duke Energy from Lake James to Lake Wateree over a 20-year span, at least three sites located on Lake Wateree in Fairfield County will be completed in the first five years and another one in the second five years, Crutchfield said.

While the improvements are primarily in Councilman Jimmy Ray Douglas’s District 2 and some in Councilman Moses Bell’s District 1, Douglas told The Voice after the meeting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission required Duke to develop the recreation improvement/management plan.

“While we assisted in offering any information we could to Duke officials,” Douglas said, “They actually came to us with the plan. We were just happy to assist them in any way. The improvements will add a lot to the enjoyment of the lake.”

The plan, Crutchfield said, is very detailed featuring construction timelines, operations and management.

“All four of the first Fairfield sites we are improving will be completed by 2022 and include: Wateree Creek accessory which was completed last year,” Crutchfield said, “and it is now open to the public; Molly’s Creek a new access area, is under construction, and we’re underway with the engineering and design phase for Colonel’s Creek access area. Taylor’s Creek – in another five years,” Crutchfield said.

“We’re legally bound to implement these plans,” Crutchfield said.

Improvements for the Wateree Creek site include a fishing pier, picnic facility, restrooms and approximately 10 gravel parking spaces.

Currently undeveloped, Molly’s Creek is under construction and will have a swimming area, paved parking, restrooms, trails, bank and pier fishing, picnic facilities and boat trailer parking. We started construction in late 2019 and we’ll will have that site completed in the late June, early July timeframe.

“We are currently working on the fishing pier, the swim beach and the boat ramps. We’ve done the grading for the area, laid down the base coat for the parking and started on the curbing for the parking. We’ll also install three restrooms and an attendant storage building,” Crutchfield said.

“As far Colonels Creek, we are currently in the engineering design and permitting phase. We expect to start construction in late April or May of next year and go through the next recreation season. We anticipate the swim beach will be open during the recreation season of 2022. We’re building the swimming areas, restrooms, picnic shelter and additional paved parking.

Once Colonels Creek is completed, we will offer the county the opportunity to lease it through our Access Area Improvement Initiative lease program.

Taylor’s Creek is a new site and will be constructed in the second five years, to be completed by 2027.

“We plan to build a parking area for about 10 vehicles, and then a trail down to the lakes edge with a fishing trail for bank fishing opportunities,” Crutchfield said.