Lake

The runoff from rain is what feeds the Tallapoosa River and Lake Martin and the lack of it has led to Alabama Power drawing down the lake to maintain required flow in the river.

Although it’s now fall and temperatures should be lowering, it’s no secret it’s hot and dry outside.

Dust is more prevalent than grass it seems. Air conditioners seem to have forgotten how to turn off. Rain seems to be a distant memory.

The runoff from rain is what feeds the Tallapoosa River and Lake Martin and the lack of it has led to Alabama Power drawing down the lake to maintain required flow in the river.

“Despite an extremely wet winter season, the dry conditions that have developed are now negatively affecting the flows in rivers and streams that feed Alabama Power’s reservoirs,” Alabama Power Hydro general manager Herbie Johnson said in a release. “Along with the below- normal rainfall, heat and evaporation are also having an impact.”

Alexander City councilmember Bobby Tapley lives in the Dobbs Road area and keeps up with rain measurements at his home. 

“In September all the rain I received was 0.6 inches and that was at the beginning of the month,” Tapley said.

In September 2018 Tapley received 1.9 inches and in September 2017, 5.1 inches.

In Alexander City some streets have gotten more rain than others.

“Downtown (Alexander City) got more than I did,” Tapley said. “Several days I would leave home and see rain or signs of rain and it would be dry at my house.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) has been chiming in on the drought.

“Rainfall has been non-existent during the past two weeks in most places with only very isolated light totals observed in a very few spots,” the National Weather Service published in a release. “The lack of rainfall, in combination with the hot temperatures experienced recently, have caused the drought conditions to increase in coverage and severity.”

The NWS said Birmingham is more than 3 inches lower than its average rainfall this year. Montgomery is lower 6.27 inches and Troy is lower 10.28 inches.

Alabama Power spokesperson Michael Sznajderman said the rain is needed to maintain lake levels. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved higher lake levels for the fall.

“Sept. 1 was the old deadline for maintaining full pool,” Sznajderman said. “If the conditions allow, full pool can be maintained until mid-October. With the lack of rain filling the creeks and river, we are required to release water to maintain minimum required levels in the river.”

Sznajderman said the drought has yet met the drought level of 2007.

Alexander City Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Ed Collari said the timing of the drought should not affect too many local businesses.

“Labor Day signifies the end of the busy season,” Collari said. “The marinas will likely be down some. Luckily Lake Martin is a deep lake and you still have access to it through public boats ramps.”

Collari said the drought could have some impact through other business segments in the community such as shopping and restaurants but it will not be too bad given the timing of it.

“Those who come to the lake for football weekends or have regular access might choose to go elsewhere,” Collari said. “Full-timers will still have the same habits. Having a drought this time of year is not as impactful. The drought is going to have an impact; it is just hard to quantify.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.