Cowans Ford Dam created the largest manmade body of fresh water in North Carolina when it dammed the Catawba River in 1963. The total length of the facility is 7,387 feet, including more than a mile of earthen dam. The concrete portion of the dam is 1,279 feet long and 130 feet high.
Lake Norman is an "inland sea" with 520 miles of shoreline and a surface area of more than 32,475 acres. Named after former Duke Power president Norman Cocke, Lake Norman is nearly as large as the other ten lakes on the Catawba combined.
Full pond elevation at Lake Norman is 760 feet. The water of Lake Norman is used in two ways to provide electricity to the Piedmont Carolinas. It is used to power the generators at Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station and by Marshall Steam Station and McGuire Nuclear Station to cool the steam that drives the turbines. This steam is condensed back to water so it can be pumped back through the plants and used again.
The lake provides a dependable supply of water to Lincoln County, Davidson, Mooresville, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Huntersville, North Carolina. Duke Energy partnered with the state in the establishment of the Lake Norman State Park. In addition, Duke Energy has built two bank fishing areas and eight public boating access areas along the shoreline. One site is leased to Mecklenburg County and one to Iredell County.