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Where Did the Water Go? Lake Junaluska Announces Lake Drawdown


LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. – Lake Junaluska will open its dam and begin drawing down the lake on Sunday, Feb. 7. The lake drawdown, which occurs every few years, offers a number of benefits to the life and health of Lake Junaluska, including removing silt, cleaning litter and making necessary repairs to the dam and sewer system. The lake will be filled again in time for Easter.

Silt deposits come from runoff into the Richland Creek and Factory Branch stream watersheds, which feed into Lake Junaluska. The work conducted will follow U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit requirements.

“From the very beginning, over 100 years ago, sediment has been deposited in the lake and has to be removed every few years,” said Lake Junaluska Executive Director Jack Ewing. “The lake is one of the greatest assets of Haywood County and it is important for it to be maintained for its beauty and recreational value.”

Another benefit of the drawdown is removal of litter that collects on the edges and bottom of the lake.

Additionally, during the drawdown local business RCF Construction will refurbish one of the three gates on the dam and rebuild a manhole that is part of the Lake Junaluska sewer system. Both Lake Junaluska and the Town of Waynesville sewer lines are located in the lake.

The drawdown will follow the Polar Plunge, a popular winter event sponsored by the Haywood Waterways Association on Saturday, Feb. 6. From beginning to end activities associated with the lake drawdown typically take seven to eight weeks. This time frame can be affected by rain and snow, or lack thereof. The process is scheduled to be completed by Good Friday, ensuring the lake will again be filled for the annual Easter activities, including the Friends of the Lake 5K on Saturday, March 26, and the Easter Sunday service at Stuart Auditorium on March 27.

Richland Creek will continue to flow through Lake Junaluska. Fish, ducks and other wildlife manage well in the shallow waters until the lake refills.

“While wildlife become concentrated during a drawdown, we are told by experts that there are no ill effects on them,” said Ewing. “In fact, people who fish say that the fishing is just as good after the lake comes back up as it was before the drawdown.”

The Lake Junaluska walking path will remain open, though pedestrians are cautioned to watch for heavy equipment at the lake entry points set up for this project along U.S. 19. There will be no boating on the lake until the lake is restored to full pool.

For more information, contact Rachel Watkins at or 828-454-6702.

To register for the Polar Plunge, visit


Mary Bates
Lake Junaluska
PO Box 67, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745