The listening tour

Army Corps general hears concerns from lake associations about new water control manuals that impact Weiss, Neely Henry and Logan Martin lakes.

Brig. Gen. David Turner, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Atlantic Division, is poised to approve new water control manuals for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) basin. The manuals will guide water management decisions not only at the Corps dams in the ACT basin, but also at many of the Alabama Power dams.

Turner met with homeowners from Weiss, Neely Henry and Logan Martin lakes January 22 to hear their concerns regarding the new manuals.CJ0_4993

“I came here for the opportunity to visit the stakeholders and listen,” Turner said in a break between meetings at Logan Martin and Weiss dams. “It’s important to get out and meet with these people prior to signing the document and hear their issues and concerns.”

The visit also provided the general a look at two of Alabama Power’s projects that will be affected by the manual updates.

Turner was accompanied by Col. Jon Chytka, commander and district engineer of the Corps’ Mobile District; Kris Mullens, chief of staff for Chytka; and James Hathorn, Mobile District water management chief. They met with representatives from the Logan Martin Lake Protection Association, the Neely Henry Lake Association and the Weiss Lake Improvement Association.

The groups are concerned with a proposed change in operations at the upstream headwater Corps dams, Allatoona and Carters. These proposed changes will reduce flows from Lake Allatoona near Atlanta and will likely affect water quality in downstream lakes as well as the quantity of water entering those lakes during the late summer and fall.

The lake groups are also concerned the Corps has not addressed their pleas for higher winter pool levels at Weiss and Logan Martin. The groups made their request for higher winter pool levels during the relicensing process of Alabama Power’s Coosa River dams in the early 2000s.
The Weiss Lake representatives stressed the importance of ample flows from Lake Allatoona in sustaining the renowned crappie fishing on Weiss, which provides economic development opportunities in the area.

CJ0_4861The Weiss and Logan Martin representatives asked Turner if the Corps will grant the winter pool level increase, in light of it not being in the ACT document he will soon sign. Turner committed to provide both groups with a framework for the approval process within 120 days after their January 22 meeting.

Those attending included Logan Martin LPA members Linda Reuthemann (president), Mike Riley and Isabella Trussell; and at Weiss, Carolyn Landrem, president of the Weiss Lake Improvement Association, John Hyatt with The Bluffs Overlooking Weiss Lake, and Hap Bryant (president) and Gene Phifer of the Neely Henry Lake Association.

“My main purpose was to listen and understand your perspectives, and I got a lot of that today in a very passionate, but good manner,” Turner told the Logan Martin group.

“It was a great opportunity and venue for these lake associations to voice their concerns,” said Alan Peeples, manager of Reservoir Management for Alabama Power, who attended the meetings.

In early 2013, the Corps released for public comment a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) along with the new manuals. The final EIS and manuals were released for public comment last November.

Alabama Power employees reviewed the ACT manuals and final Environmental Impact Statement to understand how the documents affect the company’s lakes, and filed comments Feb. 5. All stakeholder comments should be made available to the public by the Corps at a later date.

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