Lake Martin residents celebrate upcoming change to lake

Published: Apr. 3, 2015 at 8:50 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2015 at 9:18 PM CDT
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LAKE MARTIN, AL (WSFA) - Never before has the soothing sound of water lapping up on the shores of Lake Shores sounded so good. Lake Martin resident John Thompson still can't believe it, calling it a huge plus for nearby businesses.

"This lake represents so much. It's an economic engine for the community," Thompson said. He's the president of the Lake Martin Resource Association.

It was Jim Crew who led the charge in getting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow Alabama Power to extend the summer pool by six weeks and then draw down the lake by seven feet instead of 10, a net result of three feet of more water covering 45,000 acres.

"It's primarily recreational opportunities. In Alabama it's still hot and still a lot of recreational opportunities left," said Crew, Alabama Power's Hydro Service Manager.

Under the current guidelines, Alabama Power has been lowering the water level at Lake Martin every September 1, right after vacationers leave for the summer. For more than 30 years Alabama Power dropped lake levels by 10 feet every fall to prevent flooding downstream and to allow residents to conduct maintenance on their docks.

The proposed change was part of the lake's federal license renewal, something residents pushed for. In fact, Crew and homeowners started the process eight years ago but were initially rejected. That's because the regulatory agency needed more proof farmers and residents downstream along the Tallapoosa River wouldn't be harmed.

"It concluded the proposed change in reservoir elevations will not have an affect on the downstream," Crew said adding that, in fact, some residents were against the idea in the beginning. He feels the science and studies back up the proof there is nothing to be concerned about. There seems to be little if any opposition today.

By and large it's a done deal, but there is a possibility the new water level at Lake Martin won't be instituted until the fall of 2016. That's because it takes a few months to get the actual license.

Meantime, people like John Thompson are beginning to find the lake even more enticing these days.

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