Archived Story

New figures show Lake Martin has more shoreline

Published 12:01am Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Officially, Lake Martin’s shoreline now measures 130 miles longer, and the lake holds 4,000 fewer acres of water than previous estimates, Alabama Power Company’s David Anderson noted Friday at the Eighth Annual Tallapoosa Basin Conference held at Auburn University.

“A more accurate measurement at the 491-foot mean sea level contour indicates that Lake Martin has 880 miles of shoreline and 41,000 acres of water, with 8,000 acres of natural and undeveloped land,” Anderson said.

He also reminded conference attendees that the relicensing process for Martin Dam is “a marathon, not a sprint,” and said it could be as long as next summer before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) makes a final decision about Lake Martin’s winter water level.

“We hope the FERC staff will issue a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by the end of the year, and we would expect that the commission will make a decision about six months after the final EIS is issued,” he said.

Anderson was one of more than a dozen speakers at the conference that addressed the health and water quality of the Tallapoosa Basin, which drains some 4,963 square miles of land and affects more than 288,000 people who live in the watershed area, including Lake Martin and Tallapoosa County.

Also at the conference was local resident who Dick Bronson discussed the environmental education programs at Lake Watch Lake Martin, most notably the program at Radney Elementary School. Under teacher Laurie Barrett, Radney students have established a trail through the woods adjacent to the school and conduct water testing and other experiments in the stream there.

A group of students in the program also attended the conference.

Keynote speaker Jim Felder, executive director of the Alabama Scenic River Trail Association (ASRT), told the 100 attendees he needs help in mapping features of the new Tallapoosa River Trail that recently was named to the ASRT.

“There are places from Lake Martin to Wedowee, especially in the Little Tallapoosa area that we need help with,” Felder said. “If anyone knows of access points, parking, portages, campsites or water features, we’d like to be able to put those on the map to help people who come here to paddle the river.”

Anyone with information about the paddling features of the upper river is asked to contact Felder at jim.felder@gmail.com.

Felder also said ASRT is looking for volunteers or organizations to bring the Riverkids program to the area. ASRT received funding to purchase 52 small kayaks, which are used to teach paddling skills to children as young as 5 years old.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ chief of fisheries Stan Cook said the department presently is conducting studies to determine the optimal minimal flow for upper access on the Tallapoosa River, and Pat O’Neil with the Geological Survey of Alabama said it is interesting to note that Alabama leads the nation in aquatic biodiversity but also is third in the number of endangered species listings.

Director of Alabama Water Watch Bill Deutsch, along with representatives of local Water Watch organizations, including Lake Watch Lake Martin, remarked that the greatest challenge facing the quality of water in the Tallapoosa Basin is the aging of water monitoring volunteers.

Anyone interested in taking the training to be a water monitor in the local area was encouraged to visit the Lake Watch Lake Martin website at www.lakewatch.org and follow the “Become a Water Monitor” link.

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