Articles & News

We Got an Extension

Summer lake levels extended to October 15

Published: 09.07.2023

Usually, the terms “fall” and “extension” used in the same sentence bring a sense of dread. Those IRS tax return extensions requested in the spring come due in the fall. The bad news is you can’t ask for another extension. You have to file (and pay), or you can pay a penalty.

So, if the word “extension” gives you a feeling of dread, let’s see if we can help with that. Alabama Power Company (APCO) has granted us a different type of extension. This one can actually help us recover from common everyday stress, like tax returns. APCO has initiated a Fall Extension to Lake Martin.

The Fall Extension granted by APCO was announced on their Shorelines website where it states,

“As of 09/06/2023, the reservoir elevation at Martin Dam is 490.31 msl. The Martin Fall Extension has been implemented and will continue through October 15th. The elevation at Martin will be maintained within the fall extension zone as hydrologic and operational conditions allow. Lake elevations are always subject to change, depending on conditions.”

For those new to the lake, this is a relatively new provision in the license granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This provision allows APCO to delay the annual drawdown of Lake Martin beyond Labor Day to mid-October. (See Operating Rule Curve graph). Prior to enacting this provision, APCO must first verify that there are sufficient water levels on the Tallapoosa and Coosa lakes. This year, there are sufficient water flows in those two systems to delay the drawdown.

The normal drawdown brings lake levels down from 491 feet above sea level to 484 feet above sea level, or seven feet. This allows Lake Martin to act as a flood control reservoir in the wet winter months. The drawdown will still occur, the gradual process will just be delayed. That means there are an additional number of weeks to enjoy the lake at summer levels.

APCO is clear, however, that the lake can only maintain summer-like levels if there is sufficient rainfall to keep the lake full. September and October are normally the driest months of the year, so it is likely that lake levels may be lower than, say, July.

APCO applied for and received a new 30-year license from FERC on December 17, 2015. This new license modified the operating guidelines in two important ways. One was the Fall Extension and the other was the winter level. Prior to the current license going into effect, the drawdown amount was ten feet annually. The new rule reduces the drawdown to just seven feet for five consecutive years and ten feet for the sixth year. This pattern would then repeat until the license renews.

We are excited about the additional water allowed us this fall. We suggest you put it to good use. See you at the Lake!


APCO Operating Guideline for Lake Levels can be found here:


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