Archive for the 'Water Level' Category

Gov Bob Riley On Water Wars And Lake Martin

Alabama water warsAlabama Governor Bob Riley has recently played a huge role in lobbying FERC on behalf of Lake Martin’s water level.  He is also Alabama’s most visible representative in the ongoing “Water Wars” – the struggle of Georgia, Florida, and Alabama to determine the future water usage of each state, and how that impacts the other two.

The Guv recently spoke to the Montgomery Lions Club, of which I am a member.  He spoke on a variety of topics, then opened the floor for questions.  Since I am keenly interested in feeding my children, I asked:

“What is the update on the Water Wars?”

Thankfully, The Guv limited his response to include some examples that affect Lake Martin.  Namely he talked about how the recent drought caused Georgia to nearly suck their lakes dry, which of course directly and indirectly affected water flow into Alabama, and therefore Lake Martin.

He made two interesting points that cause me to have hope for Alabama’s Halt!(and Lake Martin’s) negotiating positions:

1.     Georgia’s reservoirs (like Lake Lanier) were built by the Federal Government.  Not a private company (Martin dam was built by Alabama Power) or even the state government.  Since federal tax dollars were used to build those dams, don’t they belong just as much to the citizens of Alabama and Florida as the citizens of Georgia?

2.  Apparently all of these dam projects must have charters where they state the purpose for building the dam in the first place.  In my deliberately cursory and extremely biased review of the COE site, I saw no mention of using the water for watering golf courses in Buckhead, water amusement parks by ATL, or boiling hot dogs at The Varsity.  To the contrary, their charters state that among their purposes is to regulate water flow to navigable rivers.  True, Lake Lanier and Lake Martin are on two different watersheds.  But I think the Guv was trying to point out the inherent responsibility of downstream flow when the Georgia lakes were built.

I realize that this is a huge subject, with points and counter points on all three states’ sides.  The above two items hardly encompass the entire argument.  I also realize that it is possible that I misunderstood Gov. Riley, however hard I tried not to just hear the good news selectively. 

But, I do feel confident that Lake Martin stands a great chance of coming out of this with more than we started with, such as a higher winter water level.

Do any of you out there in Lake Martin readerland have more to add to this topic?  Please click “Continue” and then “Leave A Reply.”  I am sure that others would benefit from your comments.




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Higher Winter Water Level Approved For Lake Martin

lake martin real estate water levelLake Martin scored a major victory when FERC approved Alabama Power’s plan to raise the winter water level to 483, effective this year.

Alabama Power has also requested to move up the date to fill the Lake Martin to summer level up to January 15, 2008.  THIS IS ALL GOOD NEWS.

Lake Martin’s winter water level is usually 480 msl.  It’s lower than that this year, as Alabama has suffered through the worst drought recorded in 80 years.  Pretty much the rest of the southeast has suffered, too, but Alabama and Georgia have been hit the hardest.

Also, Alabama Power is in the process of reapplying for the license to operate Martin Dam.  lake martin waterfront propertyMost everyone that knows and loves Lake Martin is hoping that the move to 483 level during the winter will be a part of that relicensing, as well as the early fill up date of January 15.

If we get our normal amount of rain, this should mean that Lake Martin will recover its “lost” water more quickly.  Yee-haw!! 

Can you believe it?  How many of you out there will be able to drive your boat to your dock at 483 feet versus 480?  I am betting lots.


Related posts:

Alabama Power Wants Higher Winter Water Level On Lake Martin
Why / When Does The Water Level Go Up On Lake Martin?

Lake Mag Interview: The Uncensored Director’s Cut

Lake martin magazineLake Martin Magazine interviewed me a couple of weeks ago about the effect of the drought on the Lake Martin real estate market, and general trends affecting buyers, sellers, and realtors. They included it in an article called “Special Report: The Water Issue” in the November 2007 issue. I thought Nikki Reeves and Kenneth Boone did a good job of covering a huge topic.

While they didn’t publish the entire interview, they did use a couple of nuggets, and managed to add in a compliment to me. Here’s the entire interview, with the parts that Lake Magazine used highlighted in yellow:

Lake martin drought effect on real estateLake Magazine: Has the lake level affected your individual/company’s business this year in comparison to previous years? Has it done so in a positive/negative way?

John Coley: While I personally have been fortunate to have a better year in 2007 than 2006, I can’t say that for the real estate market as a whole. Through August, the number of waterfront closings per year was down 35%, from 346 to 226. I can’t help but think that a portion of that is due to the low lake level. I don’t think that it’s a majority of the culprit, though. I think the major blame for a slower market still lies at the feet of sellers who have overpriced their offerings. From 2000 to 2006 sellers became accustomed to 30% gains in value per year, and priced in 07 accordingly. The facts have shown that there was little or no value gain in 07 from 06, and some sellers have not figured that out yet. Case in point is the auction in July 07 at Harbor Pointe. They sold 25 condos in one day even though the water was extremely low, so you can’t blame it on the level. They sold them because the prices were low enough for buyers to accept.

LM:  Do you think the drought will be a positive thing for the lake market – in terms of rebalancing a surplus of property and real estate agents?

JC:  This is kind of a philosophical question. I think it is part of the natural free market cycle of business, so I don’t think it’s “positive” or “negative.” It’s just natural, so deal with it. Is a forest fire a “positive” experience for wild turkeys? Well, if you’re the turkey that gets burned up, no. But if you survive it and the forest in general grows more healthy because of the fire, then maybe it’s “positive” for you.

On the practical side, I do think that the lake will follow the national trend of less people joining the real estate profession over the next two years or so. The same thing happened in the tech stock boom of the late 1990s. Lots of people quit their jobs to be “day traders” or they did it on the side. The stock market crashed, and they went back to their old jobs.

There will always be room in the market for good, honest, hardworking real estate agents. In a slower market, there is less incentive for those who are half hearted or not dedicated to join up. The same rule applies in any profession. In the minds of the average American, real estate agents have a pretty low image, so I doubt we’ll see any “Farm Aid” style benefit concerts for starving Realtors.

LM: What benefits are there for buyers in the coming months? Sellers?

JC:  Buyers – I think it’s a buyers’ market in every category (condos, lots, homes), so they have the benefit of buying at good prices. The only way they can benefit, though, is to actually buy. If they sit around and try to perfectly time the “bottom” – then they may miss out. Study after study shows that most “experts,” much less the average joe cannot accurately predict the perfect bottom of any market. In fact, once the public realizes that a market is on an upswing, sellers have started to gain momentum again.

Sellers – I have talked to several people that are now considering upgrading their homes to take advantage of the buyers’ market. I think another benefit is that if they price their property correctly, and either the water comes up next spring or interest rates tick down a half point, they could have some pressure relieved. The last buyers’ market in 1999 and 2000 lasted for a couple of years, if that, then it took off and ran for 7. Sellers can be confident that, if they price it right, stage it properly, and market it hard, their home will still sell. It might take longer, but a good agent can get it done.

Lake martin propertyLM:   Is there a silver lining to the drought for the area’s real estate market?

JC:  If Alabama Power is successful in their efforts to raise the winter level water pool to 483 or 485 as opposed to 480, that would be great. If this drought gives them the evidence they need to make the case, it will be worth it.

And if there are fewer real estate agents around, maybe there will be fewer agents’ mugshots grinning at you from signs, magazines, and mail outs. Ha!!

LM:  What are your predictions/plans for 2008?

JC:  If this severe drought continues, I think it will become a major, rather than minor negative effect on waterfront sales. The question in the minds of the buyer that’s new to the market, is “will it ever come back?” Veteran buyers realize we’re in an 80 year anomaly and it hasn’t bothered them that much. But 2 or 3 years straight of less than full pool conditions will start to take a heavy toll. Personally I think that is highly unlikely if you look at the rain patterns over the last 50 years. But it’s a remote possibility.

I think that most sellers will not be very negotiable in Jan 08 – Mar 08, gambling that the water will come up. They will figure, “hey, I’ve waited this long, why not wait a little longer.” I think more buyers will start to wake up and realize that the time to buy is now. For so long I heard from buyers that said “call me when that market is not so crazy.” I’m calling them now.

LM:  Anything else you think needs to be included.

JC:  Feel free to quote from these related posts:

Nobel Winners in Economics Say Buy Now on Lake Martin
This Man’s to Blame For the Slow Lake Martin Market
6 Crucial Changes Coming to Lake Martin Real Estate
To Predict Lake Martin Real Estate, Look West

Thanks again for the mention, Lake Mag!!  (all photos in this post were taken by Kenneth Boone / Lake Magazine – Lake Martin Issue, November, 2007) 

Click here for the entire Lake Magazine Article.

Elmore County Water System Extends Intakes Deeper in Lake Martin

They are extending the intakes to deeper water.  This video was made on 10–26–2007 at the County’s intake station, which is on the Little Kowaliga branch of Lake Martin.  To get there you go to Elmore County road 80 and take Lakepoint Road to Wavecrest Drive.  Click on the “play” symbol in the middle of the video below to watch.



To the link on the clip on Youtube, click here.

Related Posts:

Lake Martin Drought Hits The Weather Channel Video

Alex City Water System Extends Intakes Deeper in Lake Martin

The drought this year has threatened to lower the level of Lake Martin to below where the intake valves for the water works of the City of Alex City are located. The City has had to extend their intake valves to deeper water.  This video was filmed 10–26–2007 on the Tallapoosa River just above River North Marina.   Click on the “play” symbol in the middle of the video below to watch it.



 Or you can click here to see the video on Youtube.

Alabama Power Wants Higher Winter Level On Lake Martin

lake martin water level changeLake Martin HOBOs President Jesse Cunningham announces that Alabama Power is taking a major step by requesting to hold more water in the lake during the next few winters.  Cunningham reports in an email, “I received word on Friday from Charles Stover with Alabama Power that they have just filed a request with FERC” to increase the winter water level to 483 from 480.  Three extra feet spread over 44,000 acres means that we would need a heck of a lot less rain to get to full pool of 490.

This will please Lake Martin property owners that might have access to the lake at 483, but not the normal winter level of 480 msl.  The higher winter water level will give more recreational opportunities to boaters, skiers, and anglers.  The higher the water, the easier it is to launch a boat, and the easier to navigate and enjoy.

Alabama Power is applying to renew their permit to operate Martin Dam.  Before they request any big change, they must submit reams of data to prove to FERC that any operational change will have minimum impact.  Maybe this awful drought that we have been suffering will give Alabama Power more ammo to prove the obvious point – more water in Lake Martin is a good thing.  I think they used to fear holding too much in case of a hurricane or flash flood.  But these days, with them computers and what all, we can predict precipitation much more accurately, and we have plenty of time to open the gates in case of a flood.

Sure, this probably won’t help us this winter, but every winter thereafter will be great.  Kudos to Alabama Power and every Lake Martin affinity group that helped push this idea.  Let’s hope FERC approves it!


Related posts:

Alabama Power Seeks Input To Relicense Martin Dam
Drought & Alabama Power Lower Lake Martin Level