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Georgia Power Issues Tallulah Press Release

Posted: 10/11/2007
by Mark Singleton

Georgia Power issued the following press release regarding Tallulah releases.

October 9, 2007

Drought causes cancellation of Whitewater flows in Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Falls, Ga. – Georgia Power, in accordance with its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses to operate hydroelectric power projects, has cancelled the whitewater flows for the Tallulah River that were planned for the first three weekends in November.

If the flows into Lake Burton are below 95 cubic feet per second (CFS), Georgia Power has the option of not providing the whitewater flows through Tallulah Gorge. During normal weather conditions, these releases for whitewater recreation provide flows for 8 hours at 500 CFS on Saturdays and 700 CFS on Sundays. Current flows into Lake Burton are less than 30 CFS.

In addition to cancelling the whitewater flows, the company has also canceled releases of water through Tallulah Gorge for the scheduled aesthetic flows. The aesthetic flows of 200 CFS for 12 hours each day were scheduled for four weekends in September and two days a week during October. The company provided aesthetic flows for the first two weekends of September but has cancelled the rest of the aesthetic flows this fall.

At this time, the company is maintaining the minimum flow through the Tallulah River system of 35 CFS, but if the drought continues and in-flows continue to drop, the company will consider, in coordination with FERC, reducing that flow as well.

Additionally, the company has canceled its normal fall and winter drawdown of Lake Burton because of low water levels. Given the forecast by the Climatologist for the State of Georgia for a warm, dry winter, Georgia Power has serious concerns about the long-term effects of the drought and whether or not Lake Burton can be refilled by next spring to meet future demands on the water resources.

“As the drought continues and flows in our streams decrease, it becomes harder and harder to maintain all the benefits that these lakes offer during normal water years,” said Mike Akridge, general manager of hydro services for Georgia Power. “We are cancelling the whitewater and aesthetic flows as well as the drawdown to try to minimize the long-term impact of the drought. Hopefully, these measures will put us in a better position to let nature provide enough rain to refill the lakes by the spring.”

The severity of the drought was recognized by the director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division last week when she declared level four drought response for the northern third of Georgia. In effect, the EPD has effectively put a ban on all outdoor-watering in north Georgia.

If north Georgia gets a significant amount of unexpected rainfall that increases the water flow in the Tallulah River system, Georgia Power will re-evaluate its ability to provide the aesthetic and recreational flows.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia’s 159 counties.

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Tallulah Gorge (GA)
The dams on Tallulah Gorge were among the first rivers in the Southeast to be relicensed and wow what a classic whitewater river it has become.