Lake Martin Voice Realty
Archive for the 'Water Level' Category
Is Lake Martin’s full pool 490 or 491? I get some of the best ideas for blog posts from my readers and buyers around Lake Martin. Recently someone emailed me with a question regarding the new rule curve for Lake Martin and I thought I’d answer it here.
Q: I recently read your article on the Lake Martin Voice site about the winter lake level going to 483 feet instead of 480 feet as in previous years. Lower down the page in your web site article, you have posted a link to the Alabama Power announcement made in April of 2015 for this new low lake level policy. In the Alabama Power news release article, it states the new low lake level is going to be 484 feet during the winter draw down time. It states also that the technical high lake level is 491 feet in that same Alabama Power April 2015 news release/announcement.
Please let me know what your final understanding is on the new low lake level height. You may want to clarify this subject on your site.
A: The one foot difference is the difference between the unit of measure you use. It’s a difference of “sea level” and “martin datum.” The new level in winter is going to be seven feet below full pool. That’s for sure. Whether you call full pool 490 or 491 will depend on whether you call winter pool 483 or 484. Either way it’s a seven foot drop. Most of the current technical Alabama Power papers refer to full pool as 491. However they also refer to full pool as 490 on their app – Alabama Power Shorelines. Full pool at 490 is what most everyone around here uses, so that’s the unit of measure I use when I talk about full pool. Both are correct. And both yield a seven foot drop in the future.
Interested in the current Lake Martin water level? Or Lake Martin area weather? Also want to keep up with events from around the lake, places to eat, homes and lots for sale, where to shop, marinas around the lake, places to have fun, and more? Check out the Lake Martin Voice app!
The Lake Martin Voice App is available at the Apple App store here: Apple Store Link
The Lake Martin Voice App is also available for Google / Android on the Google Play Store
I am really honored to be a regular columnist for Lake Magazine. They asked me to write about the future of Lake Martin and the new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license. To read the article on their site Click Here, or feel free to read:
The wait is over. We knew it was coming. That was made clear back in April of 2015, but until we got the real copy of the FERC license in our (digital) hands, we did not dare strut too much. Now we know the reality – for the next 30 years, as long as the Lord God sends enough rain, Lake Martin will only drop 7 feet in the winter as opposed to 10. Plus, we will have a chance to keep the tub full until Oct. 15 instead of pulling the plug after Labor Day.
We at Lake Martin can now settle back and confidently plan how the next 30 years will be. 30 years! That’s practically a generation. I think the best way to consider this new license is to think about its long-term effects – effects that will come to bloom and blossom over a generation. As I have written previously, the new rule curve will only serve to improve Lake Martin and therefore our entire community and economy. This help, I think, seems pretty obvious to anyone that scans the new license. For an article from the Alabama Power Company Shorelines blog about the new license click here.
As I review the new FERC license, the first thing to grab my attention was a mention of those previous. The original one for Martin Dam started in 1923 and lasted 50 years. The next period was a 40-year license that started in 1973. So we are starting only our third license. Martin Dam 3.0. When you put it like that, it makes the lake seem pretty young, but in reality, radical change has come here since the start of our last license in 1973.
Looking at the big picture, I would say that the biggest change agent since 1973 was the development of private property. Prior to 1973, there weren’t many places on Lake Martin where you could own your own lot and home. Think about it – Russell Lands, the lake’s largest private landowner and developer, had only recently started Willow Point, its first venture. Alabama Power, the other big landowner, had sold very few, if any, lots. In the 1970s, if you had a cabin on Lake Martin, most likely it was the short-term rental of an Old Testament Russell Cabin or you owned your home but leased the lot from Alabama Power.
When you’re a renter, or at least a quasi-renter, there is little or no economic incentive to improve it.
As ownership spread in the 1980s and 1990s, so did the by products of ownership – stores, phone lines, garbage service and Internet. In the 2000s, it just kept going to include issues like environmental advocacy. Do you care as much about the water quality of a place that you rent casually? Or do you really start paying attention when you are an owner?
What new factor will play a big role in the next 30 years? It is hard for me to say. If I were forced to guess I would say it will be the rise of the Lake Martin investor. An investor can be someone that rents the property 100 percent of the time, or maybe a minority of the time. Yes, there are some owners that rent their properties out right now, but not that many when you compare us to the beach, etc. Why?
I think it is because of the relative novelty of the Lake Martin home ownership support industry. I don’t think this is an actual term, so I will try to define what I am saying.
As uptown as Lake Martin has become in the last 15 years, we are still in our infancy of companies that help one own a home, condo or lot here. Remember that about 80 percent of waterfront homeowners are not living here full time. In other second home markets, like the beach or the mountains, there are plenty of companies that will do more than just come by and cut your grass. There are entire businesses dedicated to concierge services, such as checking on your home’s condition every couple of weeks, or helping you light your hot water heater’s pilot light, or filling your kitchen full of groceries so you don’t have to shop before you come. Sure, these services might cost a bit, but for many people it will ease some of the worries of owning a second home that’s three hours from their primary residence.
When something is easier to own, it creates more demand. More demand helps prices. Higher purchase prices mean more people will also want to rent from you. It’s easier to rent your home when you have a concierge company that can help you winterize it when you need to, or change a bulb, or replace a sofa.
Will concierge companies totally change Lake Martin and usher in a significant number of Lake Martin investors? Who knows what will happen. But I do think that as Lake Martin becomes more popular in the next 30 years, we certainly will see more of them. And, I think that Lake Martin’s competitiveness versus other second home markets will be largely determined by support industries and the like. Just as the rise of the homeowner was a huge influence on the second license period, the rise of the investor could well be a big factor in the third.
And by the way, for those that might be worried about over development ruining Lake Martin, take heart. There are oodles of restrictions that the new license puts on Alabama Power. Even if the power company were not committed to responsible stewardship of Lake Martin (which it is), the new license is very specific about the use of about every inch of our waterfront.
Whether you are a renter, owner, investor, worker, boater or just a fan of Lake Martin, the next 30 years will be fun. Lord willing, I can’t wait to see how it will unfold!
FERC has officially issued Alabama Power a new 30 year license to operate Martin Dam. This is great news, but we knew it was coming. If you have been watching this for a while, you know that Lake Martin was given the word back in April of 2015 that their application was approved.
When we heard the application was approved, we at Lake Martin were extremely excited, because it meant that the new water levels were approved. The new winter water low will be 483′ – a mere seven foot drop as opposed to the ten feet that we have had for a generation.
Also, we have a conditional fall full pool period. In English – that means, provided we have the rainfall, the lake will be full pool (490) until October 15, instead of day after Labor Day rule of old.
I highly recommend reading the actual license. It is pretty long, but it gives me a slight idea of the tedium involved in the process. As an unashamed bird nerd, I got hung up on the part about red cockaded woodpeckers for about 45 minutes. There are so many other parts of it that are really interesting that I plan to cover more deeply later.
If you would like to dig into the original, here it is: FERC LICENSE
Here’s the press release from Alabama Power: FERC License for Martin
Here’s an article from the Alex City Outlook: License Issued
Like I said, we knew this was coming, so it’s not like it’s a complete surprise. It’s kind of like waiting for Christmas. You know it will finally get here, but when it does, you think, “Finally!”
If you would like to read more history about the water level at Lake Martin, please see this link, here’s everything I have written on my blog since 2007: Water Level
If this has spurred you to buy or sell a piece of waterfront real estate on Lake Martin, please call me at the number at the top of this page. Or, you can email me here: Contact.
I am a full time realtor here at Lake Martin and would love to help out.
Yes, the news we’ve been wanting is finally here – it’s official!
FERC HAS APPROVED A 483 FOOT WINTER POOL & FULL POOL IN FALL!!
FERC has been in the process of relicensing the usage permit for Alabama Power for several years. Each license lasts about 30 years, so it’s a tedious process. If you would like full coverage of this, please see past articles I have written in the Water Level category in my blog. In fact, I think the first post I wrote for my Lake Martin real estate blog back in 2007 was about its water level.
Back to the Good News
If you would like to read the official statement from FERC, please CLICK HERE for that. If you would like to download the entire EIS, CLICK HERE – but be warned, it’s a PDF and about 4.7 MB and 295 pages.
The announcement has two main parts:
- Lake Martin will only go down to 483 feet at the bottom of winter pool, as opposed to 480 in the past. Three more feet will mean a ton more homes and boat ramps will have access to the water in winter. For real estate, this means lots more homes can claim the coveted “year ’round water” prize.
- Lake Martin will remain full until October 15, instead of Labor Day. In the past, the gradual water draw down started after Labor Day, usually the first week in September. Under the new guidelines, if we have enough rain, draw down will not start until October 15. As in the past, it won’t drain overnight, but it is a slow decline that hits bottom in late November or December. Now, it the bottom will be three feet higher!
What Does This Mean? As I have said in the past, I don’t think this huge victory will raise waterfront real estate prices on Lake Martin overnight. We should not see a huge markup tomorrow. But I do think that it will provide upward pressure for the next three decades. Everyone likes water, and the higher the better. I see this as a tremendous economic impact for the area as more tourists and second homers stay around longer in the fall!! I will write more about this but for now I would like to post this and celebrate!!
Update 4-10-15: Here’s a link to Alabama Power’s Official News Release
ONE MORE ANNOUNCEMENT:
I was going to wait until tomorrow but I am giddy with excitement, so here it goes:
I have created a FREE app for the Lake Martin area!! More info CLICK HERE!
The purpose is to provide an awesome mobile real estate search, but it’s much, much more than that. I also have curated info that heretofore only locals knew – Lake Martin events, where to eat (with menus), where to shop (with hours), weather and water level, and other things to do (where to hike, where to bike, etc). Imagine, when you wonder what’s going on at the lake, you are two clicks away from it now!! Here’s what the logo looks like:
If you think the water level thing is good news, how about the fact that the creator of the universe sent His Son to die for you? That’s what Easter is all about. We are giving praise for the fact that even though God knows are hearts, our innermost thoughts and sees that we’re sinners, He sent His son to die for His children. By His Grace we are saved, no other reason. Now that’s some real good news!
Yes. Lake Martin is now bigger AND smaller.
When I talk to people about Lake Martin waterfront real estate, they are usually amazed by the size of our lake – 770 MILES of shoreline is the number I’ve told people for as long as I can remember. That’s a huge lake, especially when you consider only 30% of the shoreline is developed.
But a new measurement is showing we have even more shoreline than that! 880 miles to be exact. According to an article in the Alexander City Outlook, Alabama Power’s new measurements show the lake has MORE shoreline but LESS water (measured in acres) than previous estimates revealed. I was once a pre-engineering major, and among the many reasons I washed out was the fact that I can’t grasp how you can have more shoreline but less acreage. Nevertheless, this is interesting news!
Everyone adjust your Lake Martin trivia accordingly.
Also – according to this article, we may not know whether FERC has approved the new winter water level request until next summer. So don’t expect an answer anytime soon. These. things. just. take. a. long. time. To read more about the relicensing of Martin Dam, check out the links below:
If you’re considering a Lake Martin real estate purchase at Lake Martin, give me a call. I’d love to share my knowledge, my experience, my trials, and my errors, with a good bit of Lake Martin trivia thrown in on the side. No extra charge! John Coley 334221 5862, or click here to contact me.
The 8th Annual Tallapoosa Basin Conference
When: Friday, May 30th, 2014
Where: Auburn University Water Resources Center
559 Devall Drive
Auburn University, AL
After a two-year hiatus they have a LOT to talk about! Check out the lineup of topics:
an update on FERC relicensing in the Tallapoosa Basin,
an overview of water quality, biodiversity and university-based research in the Tallapoosa River Basin,
a presentation on the award-winning environmental education program at Radney Elementary School in Alexander City,
updates on watershed stewardship activities in the Upper, Middle and Lower Tallapoosa sub-basins, and,
how-to for basin residents who want to do their part to minimize polluting our streams, rivers and lakes.
Organizers and sponsors for this year’s conference include the Auburn University Water Resources Center, Alabama Water Watch, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the AU College of Agriculture. For more information, call 1-888-844-4785.
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
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.
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.
As soon as I hear anything, I’ll let you know.
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:
or copying this address and pasting it in your browser:
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.
If you need more info on this huge issue, click here.
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:
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.
Alex City Outlook Coverage:
Coverage from WSFA Channel 12 in Montgomery: Hundreds pack hearing on future of Lake Martin water levels