Temporary variance will allow for capture of rainwater to meet filling needs
Until the middle of March, winter rains were lagging in many areas of Alabama, including those areas feeding Alabama Power’s lakes. In mid-March, heavy rainfall persisted, sending many of the company’s lakes into possible flood conditions, except for the Tallapoosa River basin.
While the basin did receive rain, it wasn’t at the pool level that would increase base flows in the streams feeding Harris Lake. Dry conditions are forecast to continue over the next month, which is a critical period for filling Harris to its summer pool level.
To help boost chances for Harris Lake to reach summer pool level this year, the company sought and received approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to temporarily store water at higher-than-normal levels at Harris.
“It’s a small step that puts us in a better position to capture the rains that are forecast this week and in the near future,” said Christy Nix, Southern Company’s Reservoir Operations lead engineer.
This temporary variance is designed to take advantage of spring rains to store additional water and improve the chances that Harris Lake can reach full summer pool. The variance allows Alabama Power to store water at levels that are one week ahead of Harris’ normal fill schedule. This means that on average, the lake could be about 1.6 feet above normal levels during the fill cycle and be full around April 23 instead of May 1. These operations will allow us to continue to meet filling needs downstream at Martin and the Thurlow minimum flow requirement as well.
Alabama Power will continue to closely monitor conditions on the lakes and manage the limited water resources carefully. Individuals with boats and other water-related equipment and facilities should be aware of these temporary lake level variances. All lake users and property owners should always be alert to changing conditions on Alabama Power reservoirs and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect their property.
For more information about Alabama Power lakes and alerts on lake conditions, download the Smart Lakes app for your smartphone or visit apcshorelines.com. Individuals can also call 1-800-LAKES 11 (1-800-525-3711) for lake condition updates.