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Archive for the 'Water Level' Category

Happy Plug Day Lake Martin!

Lake Martin winter levelFebruary 18 is known as Plug Day around Lake Martin. It is an unofficial holiday because that’s the day that Alabama Power starts filling up the lake! Goodbye 480!

If you are unfamiliar with the winter / summer water level schedule on Lake Martin, check this site for the prior years and this year’s plan.

No need to get nerdy about the water level if you are unfamiliar. Just know that this is a great time of the year. Help celebrate as Lake Martin makes its annual journey up to full pool of 490! There’s even a Facebook page these days: Plug Day

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Update on Lake Martin’s FERC Relicensing

As you probably know, Alabama Power is in the middle of the process to relicense Martin Dam.  If you’re unfamiliar with this event, click here for more information.  For those of you who have been following this process, you might be wondering what’s going on?

When we last left this subject, FERC held a meeting to say they had not approved a new water level rule curve (to determine what months they raise and lower the Lake Martin’s water level, and by how many feet they lower the winter water level).  Alabama Power has appealed this decision to FERC and has asked FERC to reconsider the matter.  If you’d like to read a copy of Alabama Power’s appeal, click here.

Alabama Power Martin Dam

Basically, regarding water levels at Lake Martin, Alabama Power has appealed to FERC with two considerations:

1) Potential for downstream damage is small.

2) Potential for positive economic impact is large.

The way I understand it, FERC is not operating on any set timetable. I could be wrong on this, but I think we could hear back from them in two weeks or six months.  We will hear about it when we hear about it.

My personal hope is that they grant Alabama Power’s request for a new rule curve.  The new rule curve would only drop the winter level seven feet instead of ten feet, and allow for an optional full pool period extending into the fall.  I think Alabama Power has done a great job in proving that there is no additional risk of flooding with a seven foot winter drop.  They’ve also done a great job proving that our entire area’s economic potential would be greatly enhanced by having more water in Lake Martin.  I remain optimistic that FERC will hear the appeal and make the right decision for the Lake Martin area.

For further reading, LakeMartin.org has assembled links to original documents relating to the FERC relicensing in a helpful way. Click here to see these.

As soon as I hear anything, I’ll let you know.

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How To eComment to FERC

We only have 11 days left with a chance to positively affect Lake Martin for the next 40 years. FERC has given us a way to comment to them and let them know that we favor the 7 foot winter pool and the optional full pool into October.

It only takes 3 minutes! Do you have 180 seconds to help? Please do this before August 13.

Here’s how to eComment to FERC:

1. Go to this website by clicking on this link:

FERC eComment Site

or copying this address and pasting it in your browser:

http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp

2. Click on the orange button at the top that says “eComment does not require registration, click here to proceed”

3. Fill out your information and click Authorize. It will send you a link to the email address you typed in.

4. Go to your email account and click on the link it provides

5. Select the project by searching for Lake Martin’s project number: P-349-173

6. Once you search it will offer Lake Martin as a result. Select it.

7. Type your comments in the white box. If you would like to comment in your own words, please do so. Speaking from the heart is always best. But, if you are at a lack of time or words, you may feel free to use the below, just copy and paste in the white box:

I am in full support of Alabama Power’s draft EIS for the Martin Relicensing project. In particular, I support:

1. Dropping the winter water down only 7 feet as opposed to 10,and
2. Having an optional full pool period to October 15, weather permitting.

I think the economic benefits are tremendous and will benefit thousands, and I am confidant that Alabama Power has done the research to prove the potentials for below the dam flooding, in an already existing flood zone, are minimal.

8. Submit it.  That’s it!  You will receive a confirmation email from FERC.

What else can you do?

1. Ask your spouse and all non-minor family members to comment. Remember, you don’t have to be a property owner to be a stakeholder.
2. Forward this to any and all other family and friends that love Lake Martin
3. Ask them all to comment ASAP, certainly before August 12.

It only takes 3 minutes and this affects your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren!

“What if” FAQ?

1. What if Lake Martin IS NOT granted this new rule curve? Will the real estate market crash as a direct result? Will the sky fall? Of course not. Lake Martin has existed for about 40 years under the current 10 foot winter drop and starting the drop after Labor Day. The market has been outstanding, in general, over those 40 years. Let’s face the facts – we will still be the Crown Jewel of the South, with or without this chance at improvement.

2. If Lake Martin IS granted the new rule curve, will the waterfront real estate prices skyrocket, and will chocolate and caramel flow from the top of Acapulco Rock like a Willy Wonka dream? Not necessarily. I am not guaranteeing anything. But I am saying that this is a historic, once in every other generation chance to improve. It’s an improvement that comes at almost no risk whatsoever. It is well worth our 3 minutes to comment and give it a shot.

Huh?

If you need more info on this huge issue, click here.

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FERC Lake Martin Meeting Recap

The Lake Martin community has a once in every 40 year chance to influence our lake’s water levels. Alabama Power is in the final days of getting their “rule curve” and license from FERC. A couple of weeks ago FERC had a public meeting in which to hear discussion about their recent proposed response to AL power. In short, Alabama Power asked to bring the lake down only seven feet in the winter instead of the current ten. They also asked for the discretion, weather permitting, to have an optional full pool period into October, instead of starting to draw it down after Labor Day.

If all of this is news to you and you have no idea what I am talking about, read this post first and its related links. If you are up on the news, and have been waiting on my summary, sorry I am so late in posting it. The meeting was very eventful.

Let me try and boil down a lot of information into a few key points:

1)  Great turnout!

The Lake Martin community made its presence known.  I saw people from all over.  Well done, stakeholders!! Many groups and businesses put out the call for attendance and the response was awesome. I am not taking credit in any way, this response was way bigger than anything I could orchestrate, but I would like to personally thank the people that came because of my email. I know some folks came from as far away as Atlanta! According to the folks at CACC, the capacity in the main room was 600. They had so many people show up that they created an overflow room. I was in the main room so I have no idea how many were in the overflow, but I think that 700 total people is a pretty good estimate. The meeting started at 6:30 and by 5:30 people were already getting there. Check out the packed house below:

YouTube Preview Image

2)  Lots of people had to chance to speak.

From regular folks to company executives, Lake Martin stakeholders were able to address FERC’s representatives.  First, they started with elected representatives, so this consisted mainly of Alabama State Representatives and Senators. They did a pretty good job, and of course, the they were all in favor of Alabama Power’s suggestion of a 7 foot draw down in the winter and the optional fall full pool in autumn. They all touched on the huge economic potential of such a change.  I thought that Mark Tuggle did the best job of combining the facts with persuasion. After the elected representatives spoke, then a person from Alabama Power spoke. I thought this would have been Jim Crew, who is in charge of re licensing.  Instead it was another fellow whose name escapes me, sorry. He did a nice job. Then they threw it open to anyone else in the public, and we had four minutes each. In order to speak, you had to fill out a form with your name and topic. I was surprised when they called my name to speak first in this section. I guess I was the first one to fill out a form since I got there an hour early. I had some remarks prepared. I had just written “An Open Letter To FERC” – my article submission for Lake Magazine‘s August Issue. I decided to read it as my speech. But while I was waiting around, I felt like it was too long for that forum, so I edited it back pretty viciously. You can see my speech as made at the end of this post.

Some folks from LMRA and the Lake Martin HOBOs also spoke in favor. Then Steve Forehand, Secretary and General Counsel with Russell Lands, got up and spoke. Steve did an awesome job. Of course, as Lake Martin’s largest private landowner, Russell Lands stands to gain when property values increase. That’s obvious and it surprised no one that they are in favor of Alabama Power’s proposed EIS. But what was interesting to me was how Steve reminded everyone of the intense study that has happened for the last six years, and how all of the diverse stakeholders (upstream, downstream, and all around) were taken into account. He laid out, in sober detail, the solid math that supports the environmental and economic reasons for Alabama Power’s requests.

One of the best speakers of the evening was the manager of Winn Dixie in Alexander City.  He talked about the huge disparity between the amount of merchandise sold in the summer and the winter.  He said that the gross sales difference in his store between summer and winter is $70,000 per week. Wow. He said at $2.30 per item, that’s 30,000 items that are not getting stocked by his employees or outside vendors coming to the community. If stock is not moving, he can’t retain his stock guys year round.  These are real people who struggle financially in the off season and could really benefit by extending the lake season.  I know he was just one example of the hundreds of businesses in Elmore, Tallapoosa and Coosa counties and beyond.

Another home run hitter was Kenneth Boone. He owns the Alexander City Outlook and the Dadeville Record, as well as Lake Magazine and Lake Martin Living Magazine, et al. He talked about the potential positive impact that a higher winter pool and a longer full pool season would have for him. He pointed out that, while he does not live on the lake, his businesses literally circle it.  Kenneth also put out hard numbers if the differences in summer and winter time revenue.

Here are a few pictures of various Lake Martin stakeholders I took during their speeches to FERC:

3)  Alabama Power is still working with FERC

Apparently there is more info that needs to be shared, and Alabama Power is working to provide this info.  At the very end of the nearly three hours of listening, the FERC folks finally spoke up. Someone from the crowd asked, cannily, “what do you need to give us 7 feet and optional full pool to October?” FERC responded by saying that everything they base their decisions on must be in Alabama Power’s application. And, they added, based on what’s in there now, we don’t see the evidence that a 7 foot winter drop will be OK. We would need more evidence. This was a ray of sunshine to me, because when I talked to each of the FERC folks separately before the meeting, they sort of acted like it would be a rarity for them to change their minds. That comment opened the door a bit for me mentally. After FERC said that, Jim Crew from Alabama Power finally stood up to talk. I suppose Mr. Crew remained silent during the meeting to give everyone else a chance to talk, even though he is clearly the expert. I also suppose there is a bit of strategy involved in letting other people make your points for you. At any rate, when he did stand up to talk, he said, in effect, “hey, we thought we addressed these points, but I am hearing we didn’t do enough. We will do whatever we can, supply whatever we can, to get the 7 foot winter drop and the optional fall full pool.” This was met with resounding applause.

4)  There is no resolution or ruling yet, so we’ll all have to stay tuned.

I wish I could say we know the fate of this re-licensing process, but we don’t.  There were a lot of great points made in favor of raising the winter water level and extending the full pool season by three months. But it was clear to me that this public meeting was just another thing FERC had to check off in the relicensing process. Ostensibly, they were there to listing in case any “new data” was presented. I judged from their tone and response at the end of the meeting that they felt none was. However, since they did talk about the possibility of Alabama Power giving enough new information that would help. FERC gave no time frame. We will just have to wait and see.

5)  597 to 3

Yes, there were some speakers that were against a seven foot winter pool. Three, exactly. Since I don’t know ho many were in the overflow room, I score the night 597 pro and 3 against. I won’t give them equal ink since they were so entirely outnumbered. One said he was a regular dude, a teacher, that owned land downstream of Lake Martin. He said he wanted to “put a face” with people that “y’all are trying to flood out.” I was surprised that an academic would make such a statement in light of the facts presented in Alabama Power’s application. The math on such a remote possibility should ease his fears.

Also, Trey Taylor spoke. He is an Elmore County Commissioner for District 2. He also identified himself as a cotton farmer whose crops might be affected by higher winter pools. Put aside the fact that no Alabama cotton farmer worth one bole would have cotton in the ground in October. Has he read the studies that show the slightly higher pools on Lake Martin would have no affect on him? I don’t think he has. I was flabbergasted that an Elmore County politician would be against this. Surely he realizes the huge economic impact to his county. Surely he realizes that a huge portion of Elmore County’s property tax comes from Lake Martin? Maybe not. If you are an Elmore County resident whose livelihood even remotely is helped by Lake Martin, click on his link above and contact him. My office is in Elmore County and I plan to let him know I do not support his reelection.  A person stood up after him and said that Mr. Taylor owns a lot of acreage and that was his motivation. I don’t know that to be a fact, but I do know that Mr. Taylor’s family is quite vested in the cotton business. One drive down 229 south of Tallassee confirms that.  Mr. Taylor gets the “cutting the nose off despite the face” award of the night in my book.

The last opponent that spoke was Robert Morris, a self described “lawyer from Slapout.” Mr. Morris was easily the longest and least tolerated speaker of the evening. He launched into a review of his unsuccessful attempt to sue Alabama Power in 2005 on behalf of landowners that felt the power company’s water control hurt the landowners’ interests. The suit was dismissed by summary judgement, which I think means the judge rules that you don’t have enough evidence to go to trial. Anyhoo, Mr. Morris went on at length. So much length, in fact, that FERC asked him to wrap it up (the only time all night they were forced to do so). He went on for another five minutes.  He started to receive some scattered booing.  I think his entire speech was a grand ruse to troll for new clients. He was applauded, though, when he said “In closing…….” – the place erupted in cheers, he cut his sentence off, and mercifully left the podium. If he expected the crowd to be a rich till of Alabama Power haters, he miscalculated astronomically.

6)  What Can You Do? Act before August 13, 2013!

Lots of people who could not make the meeting are wondering what they can do to show their support of Alabama Power’s attempt to drop the lake only 7 feet in the winter, and have an optional full pool to October. You can go to FERC’s website and use their eComment or eFiling tool to let them know. You will be asked what project you are commenting on, and it’s the Martin Dam Hydroelectric Project, its number is P-349-173. It must be typed exactly like: P-349-173

YOU MUST DO THIS BY AUGUST 13 or IT WON’T MATTER.

If you are wondering what to write, see the LMRA site – they make the point that we would be well advised to be a unified vote. Just say that you support Alabama Power’s proposed 7 foot winter pool and the optional fall full pool. The cutoff from FERC is August 13, 2013.

And if you’re interested, here’s what I had to say:

Like I said, I edited my August article for Lake Magazine. In the magazine, it will be fuller and (hopefully) less choppy. I didn’t want to risk boring the FERC folks and other listeners with too many examples and too many sidebars, so I cut it way down. Here’s my speech exactly as I read it:

**************************

An Open Letter to FERC:

I have two points to cover in respectful disagreement with your Draft EIS for the Martin Dam Relicensing Project.

First, I think that you are severely limiting the scope of what you define as stakeholders. For instance, the statement that the optional full pool period in the fall would only benefit property owners is tantamount to saying that three extra home games played by the Washington Redskins would only benefit the season ticket holders.

Sure, the season ticket holders would love an extra Redskins game. But they would only represent the tip of the iceberg. Think about the business that sells hotdogs; the folks that work the parking lots; the people selling souvenirs. Beyond that, hotels, restaurants, taxis and convenience stores surrounding FedEx Field would love the extra games. More importantly, what if those three extra games provided enough income that the businesses could hire three extra people each? Or make their part time employees full time? Or allow a worker to finally save enough money to retire with dignity, go to school or start another business?

Extending the fall full pool season is like giving us three extra home games. The community can be transformed into a year round economy. Please don’t think the benefits are limited to property owners only. Can someone be a Wolverine outside of Michigan? Or pull for the Fighting Illini from D.C.? Or cheer The Dawgs from the Southwest? Of course.

Another thing that I think you need to reconsider is limiting the winter pool to 10 feet. Your Draft EIS claims that 10 feet is needed to allow for flood control.   I would like to question why you think, after about 40 years of dropping the lake 10 feet, that it still needs such a huge margin of error to help mitigate the danger of downstream flooding? In short, it doesn’t, because technology has increased quite a bit since 1973 when the current license was written.

I am old enough to remember watching the weatherman on TV as he gave the daily prediction on a chalkboard. Yes, the weatherman stood at a chalkboard and drew clouds or pictures of the sun in various emotional states, along with pictures of wind, rain and occasionally snow. If he was good enough, he drew the cloud actually puffing and blowing the wind. Needless to say, we were not able to zoom in on his chalk scribblings at a neighborhood level to see where it would rain. Again, that was 40 years ago. Computers that we now consider feeble took up entire rooms. Today, even the iPhone in my pocket can provide weather prediction at the street level.

Common sense tells us that the long lead times for weather prediction 40 years ago are no longer needed. 

Please don’t let an entire lake and its people be held hostage by 1973 technology. Dump the chalkboard. Check your favorite weather app and let us lower the lake only 7 feet in the winter.

Respectfully,
John Coley

***************************

Further links:

Alex City Outlook Coverage:

Hundreds Pack Public Meeting

Ala Power: The Voices Were Heard

Coverage from WSFA Channel 12 in Montgomery:  Hundreds pack hearing on future of Lake Martin water levels

also:

WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather

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Why You Must Attend The FERC Meeting

If you own a home or lot on Lake Martin, or like to boat or fish or play on or around Lake Martin, or live in a hundred mile radius, or; if you ever hope to own a home or lot on Lake Martin, if you ever hope to fish or boat or play on or around there, or if you ever hope to live within a hundred miles, or if you love or know someone who does or hopes to do these things, then you must attend this FERC meeting.

Huh?

By now, I hope you have heard about the water level meeting with FERC on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at CACC. FERC is about to make a decision that impacts Lake Martin for the next 40 years.

If not, here are the details:

When: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Where:

Central Alabama Community College, Betty Carol Graham Technology Center
1675 Cherokee Road
Alexander City, AL 35010

Why:

FERC has denied Alabama Power’s request to keep Lake Martin’s winter water level higher (three feet higher to be exact). FERC has also denied Alabama Power’s request for a conditional longer full pool season, into October.

WEDNESDAY’S MEETING WILL BE THE ONLY CHANCE FOR THE PUBLIC TO GO TO A MEETING on this subject.

The relicensing process only happens once every 35 or 40 years. This is huge. If you need more opinions on the meeting, see below for more reading.  But let me cover a few objections you might have about going to the meeting:

1. “The fatcats and corporate bigwigs control everything anyway. People like me don’t matter.” Incorrect. I would disagree with that assumption altogether, but consider for a minute – even if “they” control everything else, they obviously don’t control FERC on this issue. It should be obvious, because every person, rich or poor, and every business, from this humble 2 person real estate brokerage to AL Power itself, have lobbied for the higher winter water level and extended full pool season - and have been denied. If this mysterious “they” of which you speak controlled everything there would not be a need for this meeting.

2. “I’m not going to speak at the meeting, so why should I come?” A valid point, but we don’t need you there to make a rousing, Jimmy Stewert-esque public speech. WE NEED YOUR BODY there to show FERC that there are many, many stakeholders, many people that care about this issues and its possible impact over the next half century on our community. In FERC’s response, the Draft EIS, they were quoted as saying  that some if these issues would only benefit shoreline property owners. Even as an agent who sells waterfront real estate, I think this is a tremendously “tip of the iceberg” approach to see the lake’s impact on the community’s economic life. Seeing people there, looking them in the face, should make an impact.

3. “Someone else will go. I don’t need to go.” Really? You may have a classic case of apathy. Can you imagine if everyone shared this thought? The place would empty. FERC would look around and ask justly, “so…… where are all these stakeholders, again?” They have been reading (and ignoring) the reams of data in AL Power’s application that talk about the huge amount of people, businesses, and environment that Lake Martin impacts. If we all have the “someone else” mentality – then we don’t deserve this potentially positive seismic change to our area.

4. “I have church on Wednesday nights.” This is actually a pretty good excuse on its face. I am certainly no theologian, but if you look closely in the Bible, I don’t think you will find any scripture that says your or your family’s salvation hinges on not going to church on July 17, 2013. Read the book of Romans and know that it will be OK if you skip this Wednesday.

5. “I live out of town.”  I hear you. But consider this – let’s say you have just arrived at home from a vacation at Lake Martin. Just as your tires hit the driveway, you realize that you left the iron on – or the kitchen sink running – or the gas grill running – and you couldn’t call a friend to go by and fix it. Wouldn’t you turn right around and go back? Wouldn’t you immediately handle this emergency, even though it inconvenienced you?  THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. FERC is making a decision that will affect everyone for the next 40 years. Yes, the meeting will run to 9:30. If you have a lake place, just go sleep there. Would spending a random Wednesday night at the lake be so terrible? Just get up early and drive to work Thursday morning. Buck up.

Now that we have that covered, I will see you there!!

Further Reading On Lake Martin Relicensing and FERC’s Refusal

For more reading on the subject, and why it’s so important to show up to this meeting, see these resources:

Alabama Power  – this is a link to their official website about the relicensing process.

Our Lake At Stake – an article in July’s Lake Magazine that interviews various people (me included) about the potential impact of a higher winter level and an extended full pool season.

LMRA Responds To Regulatory Concerns – Steve Forehand lays out the issues, and then highlights the economic impact of Lake Martin. A must read – especially when he says things like: “This creates the appearance that the Corps has determined that Atlanta’s needs are more important than downstream users’ needs and that the Corps is willing to sacrifice Lake Martin to protect Atlanta.”  I know Steve to be in possession of a very rational, well studied, and bright legal mind. Sure, that is strong language on his part. But read his article and decide for yourself if he was exaggerating. I for one do not think so.

Lake Martin HOBOs this is the Lake Martin Homeowners and Boat Owners association. They are a great resource, and have tons of links to PDF copies of the original FERC documents, etc. If you are a person that likes to read original sources, this site is for you.

LMRA stands for the Lake Martin Resource Association – the oldest advocacy group on Lake Martin, I think.

Stakeholders Mobilize For FERC – Another very good article from the Alexander City Outlook. It lays out the issues again and the potential impact.

Lake Stakeholders oppose FERC’s Refusal – this is an older article from the Outlook, written back in June.

 

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Parker Creek “Neighborhood” on Lake Martin

When searching for waterfront homes in the Lake Martin MLS, you are bound to come across one of the areas on Lake Martin called Parker CreekParker Creek is not a formal neighborhood – it describes a very large area located on the northwest side of Lake Martin.  It is in Coosa County, Alabama, and accessed by Coosa County roads.  It gets its name from, you guessed it, Parker Creek, that once flowed into Big Kowaliga Creek before Martin Dam was constructed.

If you would like to see waterfront homes and lots for sale right now in the Parker Creek area, CLICK HERE to go to my Parker Creek Neighborhood page. I have a report that shows every waterfront home and lot for sale – by all agents, all brokerages, on Lake Martin. It pulls from the Lake Martin MLS so it will be current no matter when you visit the page.

Now, what you see in the map above includes a lot more than Parker Creek.  When you use my website to search the MLS for current homes for sale in Parker Creek, you’ll notice I’ve also included Oakachoy Creek past the Narrows, The Needles Eye, and Pitchford Hollow. My fellow locals, especially, will call me crazy for including these micro-areas in a Parker Creek search. I agree, they are not technically on Parker Creek, but they are close enough. And I can’t break these searches into every tiny slough and hollow or I would have a million Neighborhood Pages for Lake Martin. Basically this search catches every waterfront home and lot that is north of Sand Island and not in Willow Point. If you are relatively new to Lake Martin, you won’t care about this trivia. Sticklers, please forgive me and see the above map.

YouTube Preview Image

As one of the older areas that were developed on Lake Martin, you’ll see large homes with character, and smaller homes built with fun on the lake in mind. This is because most of this land was once owned by Alabama Power who leased the land to homeowners who then built their own improvements.  This program lasted from the 1950s to 1970s and resulted in a lot of little fish camp, rustic style homes. Then Alabama Power, over the course of many years, started selling each homeowner the lots underneath their waterfront homes. The Parker Creek area saw a renaissance of building as more people invested more heavily into their homes.

Parker Creek  has slowly populated over time to include tiny cabins that are next to million dollar homes. There are no official neighborhoods here, but there are lots of small, winding county roads, both paved and dirt. Generally speaking, the lots in this area are a little bigger, more wooded, and less sloping, and the feel is more rural. (Of course I can always find the exception to that statement.)

Parker Creek Marina is located on the south side of the Parker Creek and has a gas dock, dry boat storage, ship’s store, and service facility. It’s independently owned, and is perfect for boat owners and their needs. Many people from the Little Kowaliga / Real Island area also use Parker Creek Marina since it’s so close to them by car.

Just like any waterfront home, lot, or condo on Lake Martin, I can help you with it, regardless of who has it listed. I would love to be your real estate agent. CLICK HERE to contact me, or you can email me (info @ lakemartinvoice . com), or you can call me at (334) 221-5862.

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FERC Approves Higher Winter Water Level For Lake Martin

Lake Martin will have a higher water level this winter!

Alabama Power has just notified everyone that FERC approved their request to keep the level at 483, Martin Datum, rather than going to the customary 480.  The timing of this announcement has prompted many questions to me from astute Lake Martin Voice readers.  I feel I must respond here.

As was widely reported by Lake Martin area media, on November 4, 2011, Alabama Power applied to FERC to have permission to keep the water three feet higher this winter.  Since November 4, we have heard nothing from FERC.  Cue crickets chirping.

Then, yesterday, at 10:12 AM, I clicked “Publish” on this post about Alabama Power’s unmet request.

Today, about 24 hours after I posted that, FERC consents.

Yes, in a time period faster than it took for Johnny Fontane to get “that part,” FERC went from silent to servile.

For all you conspriacy theorists out there, I give my official response:

Omerta.

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Alabama Power Requests Higher Winter Level For Lake Martin

On November 4, 2011, Alabama Power requested to keep the water level three feet higher than normal this winter.

This is old news to locals, of course, but I realized I had not posted anything about it on my blog.  Sorry about that.

This has been an unusually  busy fall for Lake Martin Voice Realty. Both John Christenberry and I have been blessed to have a few deals in the works and lots of people here looking for a waterfront home or lot on Lake Martin.

Alabama Power made this request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC is also the acronym that will decide to approve or reject Alabama Power’s application for a new rule curve for the next 30 years.

For all of the official information from Alabama Power as it relates to Lake Martin’s water level, go to this page on their website, then select “Tallapoosa River” and then “Lake Martin” in the appropriate drop down boxes.  The normal winter water level for Lake Martin under the current rule curve or license is 480 feet, Martin Datum.  Alabama Power has requested to keep it at 483 this year because of, in their words, “to address forecast LaNina impacts during the upcoming winter and spring months. Once approved, the lake should remain up to 3 feet higher than normal winter pool. Lake elevations are always subject to change, depending on conditions.”

If you would like to monitor the water level on Lake Martin, I think the best spot on the web is Bruce Pate’s Lake Martin.com. From here you can see the current level, and also a cool chart that allows you to compare to prior years, and to the current rule curve.  Bruce also allows you to create a water level alert, customized to your needs.   For instance, you might know that when the lake gets below 484 you can work on your dock or install a water pump for your landscaping.  Go to Lake Martin.com and create an alert that will email you when it gets close to that amount.  Neat idea!

Other Great Resources About Lake Martin’s Water Source

Lake Martin is fed by the mighty Tallapoosa River, which, I would argue (in extreme bias) is the most historically significant river that is east of the Mississippi and south of Clingman’s Dome. Here are some links to see Tallapoosa River flow numbers:

Tallapoosa River near Heflin

Tallapoosa River near Wadley

Tallapoosa River near New Site / Horseshoe Bend

The Tallapoosa is part of the Alabama / Coosa / Tallapoosa River Basin, aka the ACT Basin.  If you would like to watch water level readings for the ACT Basin, see:

ACT Basin by Army Corps of Engineers

Alabama Dept of Environmental Management

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Buying At Lake Martin? Bet You Haven’t Thought About This

If you put any thought at all into buying a waterfront home on Lake Martin, there are plenty of things to consider.  You might compare the price, size of the home, its view, the privacy, water depth, or any other of a number of factors.

Here’s one that I bet you haven’t thought about:

Is the home in a flood plain? Will you need flood insurance?

I know, it sounds crazy. I can hear you now:

lake martin damWait, John – Lake Martin is a man made lake, all of that water is held up by Martin Dam. Lake Martin (at some points) is more than 150 feet deep.

How can a home sitting up above the water level be concerned about being flooded? Furthermore,  if a home is sitting above the elevation of the top of the dam, how can it be flooded? Impossible!

Nope.  Nothing is impossible with FEMA.

Yes, FEMA.  That bumbling bureaucracy that brought you Katrina Relief is at it again. They have redrawn the flood maps for much of the tri-county area that stretches over Lake Martin.  Bucking a century long trend of technological advancement, this broad brushstroke made their master map less accurate.  It threw many more homes into the federally designated flood zone.

Why should you care?

If you buy a Lake Martin home and your mortgage company requests certification that the home is not in a flood zone, you would be flagged.

What should you do?

Your options would either be to:

1.) pay for flood insurance (many quotes are at $3,000 per year)

2.) pay a licensed surveyor or civil engineer to come shoot the elevation ($500 – $800) and apply to FEMA for a permanent exemption for your particular home.  You show this to the mortgage company, and they remove the flood insurance requirement.  Obviously, most home buyers choose this option.

Crazy. It sounds like FEMA is passing along the cost of getting accurate maps to individuals.

Agreed.  If you are buying a waterfront home on Lake Martin, or even refinancing one, you need to budget this money, just in case.

lake martin flood insuranceWait a minute – this is nuts, you say. How can a home that sits above the elevation of the dam be worried about a flood? Shouldn’t FEMA be worried about the people DOWNSTREAM of Martin Dam?  That’s like worrying about your little rubber ducky that sits in the soap dish.  There is no physical way he can wash away if the tub overflows. He is above the tub.

You are being too logical. Besides, FEMA says there is a “choice” - you can just buy hugely expensive flood insurance if you don’t want to pay a surveyor.  Who sells flood insurance? Oh yeah. FEMA.

To summarize: FEMA says that most of Lake Martin needs flood insurance.  They can’t tell us exactly which homes need it. They need us to tell them if we need flood insurance, but only if we hire a professional. If we don’t want to hire someone, we can pay for it. They sell it.

lake martin FEMA waterfrontIt’s a formula that only Yossarian could appreciate.

Read more about the Lake Martin flood insurance issue here.  It is a transcript from a meeting that FEMA held with concerned citizens.

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Lake Martin Concrete Sea Wall Construction, Part 2

From the shores of beautiful Lake Martin – here’s the second installment of the concrete seawall construction video series at Water’s Edge.  In the first video we watched Henderson and Coker Contractors pour the footings, and in this video we watch them set and fill the forms for the seawall.

During the summer, when the lake is at full pool, we rarely stop to think about what is under the surface.  In this case – a lot of carefully planned rebar and concrete.  This sea wall will protect the huge peninsula portion of Water’s Edge from erosion for years to come.

YouTube Preview Image

Stay tuned for the next installment in this series . . . at this point, your guess is as good as mine about exactly what will happen in the  next phase of seawall construction.

If you’re unfamiliar with Water’s Edge, check out some of these video tours below.  Give me a call if you’d like to see the homes at Water’s Edge, or any property in the Lake Martin MLS.

Announcing Water’s Edge on Lake Martin

Water’s Edge Architect’s Notes: Interior Spaces

Water’s Edge Architect’s Notes: Exterior Features

Water’s Edge Home Tour: Lot 1

Water’s Edge Home Tour, Lot 2

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