Floodgates opened at dam

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Monday and Tuesday’s rainfall forced PowerSouth Energy Cooperative to start a “controlled release” of lake water at its Gantt and Point A dams, in order to meet government safety regulations.

Mark Ingram, corporate communication manager for PowerSouth, explained that government regulations state that Gantt Lake’s water depth must be kept between 33.8 and 34.3 feet, and Point A Lake’s water depth kept between 40 and 40.5 feet. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, pool levels were at 34.13 feet at Gantt and 39.95 feet at Point A.

“We initiated our ‘high water notification action plan’ at 6:30 p.m. Monday night,” Ingram said. “We’re still within our normal pool levels, but we will continue to monitor everything. We anticipate we may have to continue to release water, in anticipation of water that will be flowing from the Brantley area and downstream toward Gantt and Point A.”

Ingram said that during inclement weather workers at the energy control center in the Andalusia headquarters, as well as workers at the Point A and Gantt control rooms, work together to follow “the guidelines and flowcharts” that explain when to open and close the floodgates at the dams.

“We take readings every hour,” he said. “Right now, we’ve managed the lake levels as best we can. I would suggest that owners who have property on the lake, or live on the lake, should continue to stay abreast of current conditions and changing conditions, so they can prepare to make any necessary steps or precautions to protect their property or equipment.”

Ingram added it is sometimes hard to find a balance to keep water levels steady, not only at the PowerSouth dams, but all along the Conecuh River.

“Obviously, you don’t want to have flooding for anyone, and any water we release does move downstream,” he said. “But at the same time, we have to operate within government regulations at our reservoirs to make sure we stay at normal pool levels. In addition to federal mandates, we also have to meet code with fish and wildlife, and natural resources — there are a lot of intimate details involved.”

Ingram said PowerSouth will continue to closely monitor conditions on the lakes through (Tuesday night), and manage its resources with extreme caution.

“Residents on the lakes are reminded that lake elevations are always subject to change, depending on conditions,” he said. “We urge residents and property owners to stay abreast of the weather situation and take necessary safety precautions. Low-lying areas should be avoided. Also avoid downed power lines and contact your local electric provider in the event of a power outage.”

Real-time information about the Conecuh River at Point A Dam is available on PowerSouth’s Web site (www.powersouth.com), in the “Newsroom” section.