Gantt Lake drained for maintenance

Gantt Lake drained for dam maintenance

GANTT, Ala. (WSFA) - Just one look at what used to be Gantt Lake and you get the feel maybe you’re standing on the surface of the moon, a massive crater littered with stumps and big rocks.

“I think everybody is just amazed," said Dave Preston.

It’s a sight to behold for Preston who owns a home close by.

'"Shocked that there were so many stumps and it’s just awesome to look at," Preston said.

But there is no reason to worry. At full pool, Gantt Lake covered around 2,700 acres. It had to be drawn down to the very bed a few weeks ago, a process that took 17 days.

“Gantt Dam is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and they require we perform certain maintenance," said PowerSouth Corporate Communications Manager Baynard Ward.

The lake provides hydroelectricity at the dam on the northern end of the lake for PowerSouth and that’s where the nitty-gritty maintenance work is being done at the base on the other side.

“It really boils down to safety," said Ward.

Periodic maintenance on the dam is nothing new. Still, it’s been 35 years, way back in 1984, since Gantt Lake had to be drained all the way down.

“I think everybody is aware of what’s happening and why it’s happening," said Preston.

While the work on the dam is going on, efforts are underway to also preserve the different species of mussels embedded in the soil.

“We’re relocating some of the stranded mussels to Point A Lake," said Ward.

And what about all the fish that used to call this lake home? Most of them followed the oxygen upstream to the river. Some, however, didn’t make it.

“In coordination with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, it is our understanding that they plan to perform some restocking efforts after the first of the year," said Ward.

The maintenance work on the dam should be finished by the end of November. After that PowerSouth leaders say they will rely mostly on nature to fill it back up.

And no one is looking forward to that more than Dave Preston, eager to drive back to his favorite fishing hole soon.

The dam was built sometime in the 1920s and purchased by PowerSouth in 1944. Baynard Ward anticipates Gantt Lake being at what they consider ‘full pool’ by the end of the year.

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