Holiday Rains Give Rise to Lake Martin

Several storms throughout the South during the Christmas holidays caused Lake Martin's lake level to rise extremely rapidly.  On New Year's day Lake Martin was close to 490' which is full pool.  For us locals it was a sight to see. 

Alabama Power’s hydro teams have been working closely throughout the holiday with the Army Corps of Engineers to help manage as best as possible the high waters in the Black Warrior, Coosa and Tallapoosa river watersheds.

Alabama Power’s Smith Dam on the Black Warrior; Weiss and Logan Martin dams on the Coosa; and Harris and Martin dams on the Tallapoosa are specifically designed to help manage flows downstream during times of potential flooding. When heavy rains come, the reservoirs behind these dams can store water at levels well above their normal, summer capacity – which is exactly what they’ve been doing during recent days. The company releases the stored water behind the dams in a controlled manner, through its turbines and through dam spillgates, in coordination with the Corps, to help reduce downstream flooding. 

Today Lake Martin is at 487' and dropping.  The hope is to be back at a normal winter level by the end of January.  This should allow enough time to accomplish those dock and shoreline projects everyone had planned before the spring when lake levels typically start to rise.  I'll be glad to take a look at any dock or seawall projects you may need. When the lake levels drop this will definitely be the year to complete your plans.  Always feel free to call me at 334.221.6640.

A Little History

Cherokee Bluffs was one of Tallapoosa County's most famous landmarks. It was also a perfect place to construct the first of four dams on the Tallapoosa River. When it was built, the dam created the world's largest artificial body of water.

Martin Dam, as it was soon known, was dedicated in honor of Thomas Martin, president of Alabama Power Company from 1920 to 1949 and chief executive officer from 1949 to 1963. Martin was instrumental in the development of Alabama Power and a pioneer in the development of the electric system throughout Alabama and the Southeast.

The story of Martin Dam and Martin Lake began as a story of energy. It continues today as a story of flood control, recreation and economic opportunity, irrigation and drinking water, and fish and wildlife habitats. Power was just the beginning.

Martin Reservoir Facts:
Elevation above sea level: 491 feet
Area: 41,150 acres
Shoreline: 880 miles
Length: 31 miles
Maximum depth at dam: 155 feet
Area of watershed draining into reservoir: 3,000 square miles

Hazardous Zones

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 dam spillways and 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.

Martin Dam Facts:
In service: 12/31/1926
Capacity: Four generators, with a total rating of 55,200 kilowatts
Length: 2,000 feet
Maximum height: 168 feet

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.

Alabama Power has a great webpage.  Visit them at