Bankhead

The second largest lake on the Black Warrior river, Bankhead Reservoir is centrally located in Alabama and offers plenty of residential and commercial waterfront property for camping, boating and fishing.

Map

Locate fishing spots, boat launches and other points of interest.

Management

For information about this lake, please contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District.

(334) 289-3540

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Lake Levels

Lake elevations are always subject to change, depending on conditions. Individuals who recreate below our dams and those with boats and water-related equipment on our lakes and facilities should always stay alert to changing conditions and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect their property.

Water Level

254 ft 9 in

  • 257
  • 256
  • 255
  • 254
  • 253
  • 252
  • 251

About Lake Levels

Ever wondered why the water at your favorite lake is often higher or lower than when you last visited?

APC operates two kinds of lakes: 1) Run of River, and 2) Storage. Lay, Mitchell and Jordan lakes on the Coosa River, Yates and Thurlow lakes on the Tallapoosa River, and Bankhead and Holt lakes (owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) on the Warrior River are called “run-of-river” projects that discharge essentially the same amount of water that flows into them. This type of operation gives them a fairly consistent lake level year round. These lakes were not designed with flood control as a specific project purpose. Alternatively, “storage” projects like Weiss, Henry, and Logan Martin lakes on the Coosa River, Harris and Martin lakes on the Tallapoosa River, and Smith lake on the Warrior (Sipsey) River provide seasonal storage, having different summer and winter pool levels, and are drawn down late fall into the winter to provide a means of managing and storing winter/spring rains. These operations provide a measure of protection against downstream flooding during high flow events. These storage projects normally have their levels returned to summer pool levels during the spring timeframe. Water stored in these storage lakes can also help mitigate some impacts of drought by providing a limited source of water for use when it is scarce, such as during drought periods.

The need for water in summer and fall can often exceed the natural supply. Most big lakes also operate for many other reasons – hydropower, recreation, navigation and the environment. Each of these purposes can factor into whether water is released, causing a fall in lake levels particularly during the late summer and fall periods.

Floods are normally the cause of the greatest and quickest changes in lake levels. Heavy rains produce floods that can raise a lake level several feet overnight. When floods are over, it is important to get the lake ready to store water from the next flood that may come along, and that is done by returning the lake to its normal level.

Operating Guide

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers help determine the operating curves, called a Guide, for the storage lakes managed by Alabama Power, which is the maximum elevation at which Alabama Power may maintain the reservoir under normal conditions. The operating Guide begins in January at a winter pool elevation and then rises during the late winter into early spring to summer pool elevation. The Guide remains the same throughout the summer months, which supports recreation use on the lakes. In fall and early winter, the Guide declines to make room for normal winter and spring flood flows. In general, the operating guide provides the guidance needed for both flood control operations and daily water management decisions.

Lake Updates

Special Operations Message

During the Spring months, when rainfall is more frequent for our area, rain events can cause changes, sometimes very quickly, to lake elevations, and spill gates at the dams are subject to opening more frequently. Individuals that recreate below our dams and those with boats and water-related equipment and facilities should always stay alert to changing conditions and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect their property.

Last updated: April 5, 2017, 1:29 pm

Lake Conditions Message

Lake elevations are always subject to change, depending on conditions

Last updated: February 8, 2017, 7:03 am

Seasonal Level Data

Bankhead

Weather Partly Cloudy

  • Air Temp 71.8°F

  • Humidity 94%

  • Wind 0mph WSW

Renew Our Rivers

Trash Removed 149,500 LBS

Volunteers 888

Tentative Operating Schedules

We at Alabama Power are pleased to provide you information and hope you will safely enjoy the many benefits of our lakes. Please be aware that the generation schedule and subsequent water releases from the dams are subject to change without notice. Please understand that you alone are responsible for your safety on the lakes and rivers. Areas below the dams are considered hazardous because of turbulent water conditions.

Current operations schedule is temporarily unavailable.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized Alabama Power to build a generating plant at Bankhead Lock and Dam nearly 40 years ago. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the dam, while Alabama Power owns and maintains the generating plant. Bankhead generating plant is a part of the Black Warrior River Project which includes the Lewis Smith development. The powerhouse and dam were named for Senator Hollis Bankhead, a proponent of hydroelectricity.

The story of Bankhead Lock and Dam began as a story of transportation and navigation. It continues today as a story of flood control, recreation and economic opportunity, irrigation and drinking water, and fish and wildlife habitats. Transportation was just the beginning.

Bankhead Reservoir Facts:
Elevation above sea level: 255 feet
Area: 9,200 acres

Bankhead Lock and Dam
Hazardous Zones
  1. Swirling water and strong underwater currents at powerhouse intakes.
  2. Strong unpredictable currents, presence of submerged hazards and low visibility upstream of trash gates.
  3. Turbulent discharges from automatically operated turbines.
  4. Cascading spillway discharges, strong unpredictable currents below dam and presence of debris passing over or through dam.
  5. Strong upstream currents in surface waters (reverse flow).
  6. Swift, turbulent waters below spillway gates.
  7. Slippery surfaces on shoreline.
  8. Submerged hazards and rapidly rising waters from turbine or spillway discharge.

Bankhead Dam Facts:
In service: 07/12/1963
Capacity: 52,400 kilowatts

Hydro Relicensing

Alabama Power’s operating licenses for its projects are issued for a period ranging from 30-50 years and must be renewed for the company to continue operating its existing hydroelectric developments.

Learn more about the “hydro relicensing process”.

Fishing

Whether you enjoy fishing from a boat, a pier, or a bank, on open water or secluded inlets, you’re sure to find a great fishing spot in Alabama.

Learn more

Fishing Scene

Fish Species

  • Bluegill

    Bluegill
  • Largemouth Bass

    Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass

    Striped Bass
  • Crappie

    Crappie
  • Catfish

    Catfish

Parks & Facilities

Each year, Alabama Power welcomes thousands of visitors to its five day-use parks and more than 45 public access sites on the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Black Warrior rivers.

Alabama Power and its state and local partners operate and maintain dozens of boat ramps and bank fishing access sites along the shoreline. The company also maintains thousands of acres of natural and undeveloped land along the lakes for use by hikers, bird-watchers and primitive campers.

View Map

Park Scene

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Shorelines Blog

Memorial Day Events Round-Up

Celebrate Memorial Day and kick off the summer at one of these events on our lakes this weekend: SMITH Smith Lake Memorial Day Festival Location: Smith Lake Park. Time/Date: ...

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