Alabama Power lake levels continue to drop; Boat owners should take steps to protect property

The worsening drought across north and central Alabama continues to adversely affect lake levels on Alabama Power reservoirs on the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Black Warrior rivers. With lake levels expected to continue dropping, people with boats and other water-related equipment and facilities should take steps to protect their property.

This year’s drought is shaping up to be one of the worst on record in Alabama. Streams that feed Alabama Power lakes are at some of the lowest levels ever recorded for this time of year. On most large storage lakes, levels are already 1 to 2 feet below the typical elevations for this time of year. Lake Martin is about 4 feet below its typical level. In addition, the company’s “run-of-the-river” lakes, which normally do not fluctuate as much as the storage reservoirs, are also down.

During the past few months, the water released from Alabama Power reservoirs has been reduced to the minimum amounts required by the company’s federal hydroelectric project licenses. Additionally, because of continuing dry conditions, the company indefinitely suspended weekend recreational releases of water from Jordan Dam.

Alabama Power must make certain releases from the lakes to meet requirements for navigation, fisheries, water supply, water quality and boating. Depending on rainfall, lake levels can be impacted by these requirements. Alabama Power attempts to balance all the various requirements for water releases and lake levels to meet the multiple uses of the hydroelectric projects.

As of May 17, here are the lake levels on the reservoirs that are most affected by the drought conditions:

LakeMartin – 486.0 feet or 4 feet below summer pool

LakeHarris – 790.6 feet or 2.4 feet below summer pool

SmithLake – 508.4 feet or 1.6 feet below summer pool

LakeLoganMartin – 463.4 feet or 1.6 feet below summer pool

WeissLake – 563.1 or about 0.9 foot below summer pool.

Summer pool is the maximum lake level under normal inflow conditions. Normally, lakes reach summer pool around May 1 and begin to drop in mid to late summer. Because of drought conditions, some lakes are unlikely to reach summer pool this year and will continue to drop as the summer progresses.

People 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 property.

For the latest information about lake levels, visit Click on “Community,” then “Lakes & Recreation” and then “Lake Info.” Click on “Lake Conditions” for details. Information can also be obtained by calling Alabama Power's automated Reservoir Information System at 1-800-LAKES11 (1-800-525-3711).