Efforts being renewed to get lake levels raised in winter
by David Atchison
PELL CITY — The Logan Martin Lake Protection Government Committee met Thursday morning to discuss renewed efforts to get the lake level raised during the winter months.

Committee Chairman Randy Smith called the meeting specifically to address the Logan Martin Lake water level issue.

“We’ve been trying to raise the lake level to 462 (feet above sea level),” said Mike Riley, LMLPA president. “Alabama Power Company supports that.”

Riley said the LMLPA Government Committee could make a formal request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is currently updating its operation manual for the Coosa River basin.

The committee consists of local city, county and state officials, as well as LMLPA members.

“We’ve been working on this for 20 years,” St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said.

He said although Alabama Power Company officials support an increase in the winter pool level of Logan Martin Lake, the company needs to be an official part of the request.

“The key is to have Alabama Power Company’s signature on this, too,” Batemon said.

Pell City resident Barnett Lawley, former Alabama Conservation and Department of Natural Resources commissioner, said Logan Martin Lake is one of the largest holding lakes on the Coosa River basin.

“Two feet is a lot of flood control space,” he said.

Batemon said APC’s flood easement is not fully utilized by the electric company, and the increased lake level during the winter should have no impact on flood control.

Currently the Logan Martin Lake level is lowered to 460 feet above sea level during winter months. Local officials want the winter pool level raised to 462 feet above sea level.

“This is an economical development project for us,” Batemon said. “I don’t think anybody could say this would not be good for economic development.”

Other officials agreed, saying an increase in the lake level could help promote area businesses and industries.

Lincoln Mayor Bud Kitchin said the increase in the winter lake level could have a positive economic impact for the area.

“There is an economic factor,” Riley said.

He said there is also an environmental factor.

“You raise the lake 2 feet, you don’t see mud,” he said. “When the water level goes down, four-wheelers come out. It is environmentally harmful to the lake bed.”

The increase in the lake level during the winter months could also enhance fishing.

“The fishing industry would like it,” Riley said.

Lawley said during the time he served as the state’s conservation commissioner, APC agreed to increase the lake level of Weiss Lake because of a decline in crappie fish. The higher water level provided more shallow bedding areas for the fish in early spring and the crappie population exploded.

He suggested that Logan Martin Lake could see a positive benefit in the fisheries of the lake with an increase in the lake level during winter and early spring months.

Normally, APC starts raising the Logan Martin Lake level in April. Generally by the first of May, the lake reaches its normal summer pool level of 465 feet above sea level.

Henderson asked that committee members put their thoughts in writing and submit them to Riley, so a formal letter could be drafted.

Henderson said the committee hopes to have the formal letter drafted by the LMLPA’s July 18 meeting.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.

© 2013