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Our History

The Least You Should Know...

The High Rock Lake Association (HRLA) in North Carolina was formed in 1954 to address water level problems and other serious concerns, such as pollution in the lake water.

Since then, we have continued to function as a vigilant watchdog organization, regularly acting to protect and promote the lake's health, beauty, and safe recreational use for our members, property owners, stakeholders, and others who simply love these waters as we do.

Our most recent and impactful achievements occurred during our pivotal role in Alcoa's re-licensing negotiations with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2006-2008, which resulted in a veritable wish list of beneficial changes and revisions for HRLA members and area residents that will remain in effect until 2055.

This mission continues today and is more relevant now than ever!

To view our association's current areas of concern and focus, please visit our “News” page.

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In the early days of the Korean War, when extra aluminum production was needed, a special arrangement between Alcoa and Duke Power, among others, kept the water level on High Rock Lake unusually stable and high for two years.

At this time, Alcoa sold several large tracts of waterfront property in the Southmont area. Oakwood Acres was sold to a land development company from Connecticut. The company subdivided and resold the land to prospective lake cottage owners in the early 1950's, where several homes were built.

As the Korean War concluded, the water in High Rock Lake became quite unstable and, at times, disastrous for recreational use. Many of the new lake cottage owners, largely from Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, were unhappy about the situation. This resulted in the formation of the High Rock Lake Association in 1954 to address the water level problem and other serious concerns, such as increased pollution in the lake water.

The High Rock Lake Association grew with membership, including lake residents, recreational users, and many local businesses. The groundwork was laid for the HRLA to improve and protect the lake's recreational values and ensure that the surrounding communities in the upper Yadkin River basin improve their sewerage treatment facilities. These efforts focused on sensible river flow in the public interest.

During this time, HRLA directors attended countless meetings (at their own expense) and hearings before municipal officials in Winston-Salem, Thomasville, Lexington, Spencer, Elkin, and other towns; as well as utility and power commissions in Raleigh and Washington DC.

Lawrence Pfefferkorn, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of HRLA and president through much of the 1950s and 1960s, estimated that he wrote more than one hundred letters to area media contacts about the lake problems. Most of his letters were printed, often supported by editorial comments, and were a big help to the cause.

In 1967, the work of HRLA bore fruit as Alcoa, Duke Power, CP&L, and the Federal Power Commission all agreed to a revision of the contracts amongst the entities. This resulted in new HRL water control rules, which meant a high water level from May 15th to September 15th each year and a more gradual and less severe draw-down at other times of the year.

The next decade saw HRLA engage with Duke Power Company over the proposed Perkins Nuclear Plant. HRLA's position regarding the plant cooling techniques, Duke's inaccurate electrical demand projections, and the Three Mile Island incident led to Duke Power Company's eventual cancellation of the project.

Since then, vigilant in the representation of its members, the HRLA also obtained major changes and clarifications to the 1998 pier specifications, successfully lobbied for major reductions in proposed Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) regulations sought by Alcoa, and were also extremely active in petitioning the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to demand that Alcoa operate the lake in accordance with the intent of the 1968 license amendment during and following the drought and catastrophic draw-down of the lake that took place 2002.

However, the HRLA’s most recent and impactful achievements clearly occurred during its pivotal role in representing their members during Alcoa’s re-licensing negotiations with FERC, which took place primarily between 2006 and 2008. This complicated, multifaceted process involved literally thousands of association man-hours, which were invested over more than a two-year period of lobbying, legal maneuvering, and delicate negotiations.

As history would later prove, the investment was well worth it. The new FERC re-licensing agreement, which was finally made official in 2016 (after more than eight years of additional legal delays), ultimately included a veritable wish list of beneficial changes and revisions for HRLA members and area residents.

From stabilizing water levels and drought protocols to extending the recreational season, and the addition of many sought-after revisions to the SMP and much more were all included, not to mention many public recreation improvements as well. All of this was set in place for the residents of High Rock Lake until 2055, and it was all delivered by the singularly focused efforts of the High Rock Lake Association and its members.

The HRLA continues this tradition today, faithfully and exclusively championing the interests of all High Rock Lake property owners, stakeholders, and the thousands of people who love being in, on, and around their lake’s waters. Its ongoing mission has always been to protect and promote the lake’s health, beauty, and safe recreational use for all who love it. This mission continues today with more than a thousand active members and is more relevant than ever.

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High Rock Lake Association is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization.  P.O. Box 159, Southmont, NC 27351

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