Drought leads to record drops at Lay Lake

Alabama Power announced last week its plans to further drop the normally steady water level at Lay Lake in an effort to combat &8220;extreme&8221; drought.

Lake levels, which were already low due to dry conditions, were initially dropped one foot starting June 4, according to Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman.

A second drawdown, beginning today, is expected to bring the lake to a level nearly three feet below normal within the next two weeks.

&8220;We have never taken Lay Lake down this low due to a drought situation,&8221; Sznajderman said. &8220;This is unprecedented.&8221;

Water levels at Lay Lake are controlled by Alabama Power through Lay Dam, a hydroelectric power dam on the Coosa River.

Described by Alabama Power as a &8220;run-of-the-river&8221; lake, Lay rarely fluctuates from its usual summer elevation of around 396 feet.

In a release advising boat owners to take steps to protect their property, Alabama Power noted that streams feeding the company&8217;s lakes are at the &8220;lowest levels ever recorded for this time of year.&8221;

The severe dry conditions prompted Gov. Bob Riley to announce a drought emergency and request a federal disaster declaration for 19 Alabama counties, including Shelby.

Alabama Power has requested relief from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking that water from Corps reservoirs in Georgia be released into the Coosa River.

Updated information on lake conditions, including water levels, can be found online at www.alabama-power.com/lakes or by calling 1-800-525-3711