When does the water go down? Does this house have water year round?
I hear this a lot. When people are looking for homes or a lot on Lake Martin, they soon learn that the lake’s water level fluctuates. Depending on your preferences, this might affect where on the lake you choose to be. If you are not aware of the lake level’s changes, it may affect how happy you are with your purchase. If you want to be able to take a New Year’s Eve boat ride, you will be disappointed if you are high and dry with no water in the winter. Or, maybe you prefer a quiet cove off of the main thoroughfare. In that case, don’t over pay for a place that doesn’t fit your needs. You need to learn a little about Lake Martin in order to make the right decision.
Why does the lake level go up and down? First, you need to know that Lake Martin was created back in then 1920s when the company that is now Alabama Power dammed the Tallapoosa River. The Tallapoosa River joins the Coosa River to form the Alabama River near Montgomery. The Alabama flows all the way to Mobile Bay, and is a navigable river. The Alabama River must maintain a certain level so that barges can move up and down it.
So, part of the reason the Martin Dam exists is to ensure that the Alabama has a certain amount of water flow. Since Alabama Power owns the dam, they (with permission of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) decide how to regulate the water level. So how does this affect your lake house?
When the Lake Martin is at full pool, the water level is at 490 feet above sea level. The lowest planned point is 480. Alabama Power has a plan of how they regulate the lake level, and they pretty much stick to it, unless it is a time of extreme drought or deluge. You can check the plan here. Roughly speaking, Lake Martin is at full pool from the spring until Labor Day.
The best way to tell if a lot or home’s lake level suits you is to view it through all the seasons. If this is not practical, (and it rarely is) then try and figure out how deep the water is off of the end of the dock or whatever is the deepest point where your boat might be moored. If it is less than ten feet deep, chances are you will not have year round access to water. That doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want the lot. Like I said earlier, maybe you want to be in a more secluded spot. Those are usually on water that’s more shallow. Finding “your” lake home or lot is just like any other big decision – ask a lot of questions, talk to people that have been there, and make your decision based on what you want, not someone else. And relax….. you can hardly make a bad choice. As long as you’re in the Lake Martin area, you’ll be happy.