[Video] Press Conference Held to Save West Point Lake Water Level
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has proposed a change that would allow the lake to be full (at a recreational use level of 635 feet) only from June 1st through September 1st, for a maximum of three months out of the year. Previously, the lake has been full for five months out of the year, from June 1st through November 1st. If the proposed USACE change is put into place, it would amount to a 40 percent reduction in time that the lake could be used for recreational purposes.
Such a change would have a significant impact on the local economy. Depending on how the lake is managed, it could have an annual local economic impact ranging from $153 million to $710 million.
For example, Lukken said, organizers of the BASSmaster fishing tournament (which was held at West Point Lake last year and televised by ESPN2) would like to hold the tournament at the lake again in May 2013, but nobody knows if there will be enough water for such an event.
Wolfe and Lukken asked local citizens to sign a letter that will be sent to USACE as well as the governor, U.S. senators, and state senators and representatives. The letter will be available for signature at LaGrange City Hall (200 Ridley Ave.), Troup County Board of Commissioners Office (100 Ridley Ave.), and LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce (111 Bull St.). Sign the petition online by clicking here.
Watch video of the full press conference below:
Full text of the letter regarding West Point Lake:
TO: Colonel Donald E. Jackson, Jr., Division Commander
USACE, South Atlantic Division
Colonel Eric Conrad, Deputy Division Commander
USACE, South Atlantic Division
Colonel Steven Roemhildt, District Commander
USACE, Mobile District
FROM: Undersigned Citizen
DATE: December 2012
RE: Guide Curve Change at West Point Lake
West Point Lake is a 25,684 acre mainstream Chattahoochee River impoundment that was identified by the US Congress as a recreational demonstration project and has been in existence since 1974. The Lake was authorized by Congress for five uses: 1) flood control, 2) hydroelectric power, 3) navigation, 4) sport fishing and wildlife development and 5) general recreation.
In regards to the latter two purposes, West Point Lake offers an abundance of wildlife and numerous ways to enjoy it. When the Lake was created, a forested valley was flooded; trees and other structures were left standing to provide an excellent fish habitat. Man-made fish attractors also improve fishing at the lake. Short, mild winters and long, warm summers plus gradual transitions between seasons characterize the climate—making the project conducive to year-round recreational and sport fishing use. The Lake’s impact on the local economy ranges from $153 million to $710 million, depending upon how the lake level is managed.
However, in recent years, the USACE has dropped water levels at West Point Lake for extended periods of time. Large expanses of exposed mud shoreline, bank erosion and smaller lake surfaces have become the norm, rather than the exception. Of course, I recognize that water is a limited resource throughout the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin and that droughts are becoming more frequent and longer in duration.
Historically, there is some seasonal variation in rainfall with the heaviest rains occurring in the winter and the lightest during the fall. This information, coupled with the fact that the USACE acknowledges that drawdowns are detrimental to recreational use, the fishery and soil erosion, makes the USACE’s decision to propose changing the guide curve for the Lake in the late summer/early fall perplexing.
Changing the guide curve and, in essence, reducing the potential for the Lake to be used for its intended Congressional authorizations during high recreational and sport fishing season by 40% is not acceptable. This decision, on an already beleaguered lake, would have detrimental effects not only on our community’s quality of life but especially to those businesses that depend upon tourism and recreation.
I strongly encourage you to reevaluate your decision and re-establish a guide curve for West Point Lake that matches the Congressionally authorized use of the Lake.
U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson
U.S. Congressman Lynn Westmoreland
Governor Nathan Deal
Pete Taylor, USACE, Mobile District
Pat Robbins, USACE, Mobile District
Randall B. Harvey, USACE, Mobile District
Senator Josh McKoon
Senator Mike Crane
Rep. Carl Epps
Rep. Randy Nix
Rep. John Pezold