MONTGOMERY, AL - Alabama Power will soon begin reducing by 10 percent the releases of water from hydroelectric dams on the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers. The reduction is part of an effort to conserve water supplies in the face of developing drought conditions and could begin as early as the first week of December.
The National Weather Service and the state climatologist have forecast drought conditions to persist or intensify through the normally wet winter season. The 10 percent reduction will cut flows from the company's Coosa and Tallapoosa hydroelectric projects into the Alabama River above Montgomery from 4,640 cubic feet per second (cfs) to about 4,176 cfs. The reduction will help Alabama Power to conserve water in its reservoirs on the two rivers.
"We appreciate the timely action by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to grant our request for this limited reduction in the flow of water that we normally release to support navigation downstream," said Matt Bowden, Alabama Power's vice president of Environmental Affairs.
In addition to the flow reductions, Alabama Power is pursuing additional measures, including requesting temporary variances to allow higher winter pools at Weiss, Logan Martin, Harris and Martin lakes. These variances in the requirements outlined in Alabama Power's federal licenses would allow the company to capture and store water earlier than normal over the winter months, in an effort to improve the likelihood of filling the reservoirs during the predicted dry conditions this winter and spring.
"These actions will improve our ability to manage the water that is available during this drought," Bowden said. "People should understand that droughts and their severity are hard to predict. The steps being taken by the company now are proactive efforts, consistent with our drought plan. They are designed to reduce the effects of drought, which can impact numerous stakeholders both on the reservoirs and downstream."
Alabama Power releases water from the lakes to meet downstream needs such as navigation, fisheries, water supply and water quality. During drought conditions, the company operates its hydro facilities with one purpose in mind: to manage the limited water resources in the most effective and responsible way.
Alabama Power will remain in close contact with federal and state agencies to monitor developing drought conditions and develop responses that protect water quality, wildlife and navigation to the fullest possible extent. The relevant agencies include the governor's office, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the state Office of Water Resources. The company will also work to keep lake communities, the public and others informed about its hydro operations.
With the early stages of drought, the full impact to Alabama Power's storage reservoirs is unknown. The temporary variances and other measures will be re-evaluated as conditions improve or deteriorate. Individuals with boats and water-related equipment and facilities should always stay alert to changing conditions and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect their property.
For the latest on lake levels and Alabama Power's efforts to manage through the drought, visit www.alabamapower.com and click the "Lake Conditions" link on the left side of the page. Information can also be obtained by calling Alabama Power's automated Reservoir Information System at 1-800-LAKES11 (1-800-525-3711).