USACE has proposed that the lake could be full only from June 1 through September 1. Therefore, the USACE has decided to operate West Point Lake at full pool for a maximum of three months per year instead of five months (a 40% reduction) during the peak recreational season. 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.
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 change the guide curve for the Lake in the late summer/early fall perplexing.
By 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 Congressional authorized use of the Lake.