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File / The Outlook Alabama Power announced a fall extension at Lake Martin, which means until Oct. 15 Lake Martin’s water level will remain at 491 mean sea level.

Alabama Power announced Tuesday a fall extension of the summer pool on Lake Martin, said Hydro Services manager Jim Crew. The fall extension is granted when water is plentiful throughout the Tallapoosa and Coosa river basins and conditions are met at Alabama Power dams across the system. The extension of the lake’s summer pool level allows more boating and recreation opportunities than would be possible if the implementation of the winter drawdown began Tuesday as scheduled. 

Until Oct. 15, Lake Martin’s water level will remain at 491 feet mean sea level. After that date, the level gradually will be drawn down to 484 feet msl by the third week of November. The seasonal drawdown has several advantages, the most important of which is flood prevention. The winter pool level provides storage space in the reservoir system for spring rains.

At the local level, the lower water allows repairs and improvements to docks that are underwater during the summer. The drawdown allows more access to the lake bottom during winter cleanup efforts and assists in the control of some invasive weed species along the shoreline as well.

In addition, extending the summer pool level offers economic benefits to Lake Martin communities that provide services to part-time lake residents and visitors, Alexander City Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Ed Collari said.

“Economically, that’s great news for our community,” Collari said. “The increased lake levels will allow people to continue to enjoy the lake into the fall. We’ve seen already this year what having people here around the lake will do, as that’s reflected in our community sales tax levels. The higher water level will encourage people to spend more time in our communities.”

The terms of Alabama Power’s license to operate Martin Dam and manage the reservoir stipulates Sept. 1 as the drawdown commencement date unless four specific criteria are met, indicating that the system of reservoirs on the Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers contains enough water to maintain navigation levels downstream. 

The conditional fall extension of summer pool is new to the licensing terms for Lake Martin. It was not included in license terms of Alabama Power’s earlier licenses, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) added it to the license issued in December 2015 after the lake community overwhelmingly argued for it. Analysis of data at that time indicated the fall extension could be expected to occur about once every four years; however, this is the third year since the license has been in effect the fall extension has been granted.

Year-to-date precipitation has been far above average in the Lake Martin area. Normal precipitation for the period of January through August is just under 39 inches, but more than 54 inches of rain have fallen in the lake area so far, according to the National Weather Service.

Alabama Power representatives urge boaters to enjoy the extension of summer safely.

Individuals with boats and other water-related equipment and facilities should always be alert to changing conditions on Alabama Power reservoirs and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect their properties.

For more information about Alabama Power lakes, download the new Smart Lakes app or visit apcshorelines.com. Call 800-525-3711 for lake condition updates.