Water Quality Update

Tallapoosa River Basin Water Issues and News

The cleanliness of Lake Wedowee water is consistently monitored by the LWPOA Water Quality committee to make sure your lake water is safe for full body contact sports like swimming and skiing, and for fish and fishing.  The volunteers of the Water Quality committee test the water in Lake Wedowee and its tributaries, providing an invaluable service not only to association members but to the larger community of water users in our region and all our downstream neighbors.  If you see a potential water quality problem, or have a question about test results or data, please get in touch with the water quality chairman (see contact information on the "Our Mission" page). 

The committee has about a dozen water monitors around the lake who take monthly samples and test for chemical indicators of healthy water such as pH, dissolved oxygen, mineral content and alkalinity.  Several of these volunteers also test for E. Coli bacteria that can wash into the lake.  The test results, which have been collected and entered in the Auburn University Alabama Water Watch (AWW) database for many years, provide a historical record of the water that can be used to detect changes in water quality or trends water users should be aware of.  The data for Lake Wedowee and almost every other lake, river and stream in Alabama are available at the AWW website.

The committee also interacts with state and local governments and non-governmental agencies that have common interests in protecting water quality.  These include Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, The Alabama Clean Water Partnership and Upper Tallapoosa Clean Water Partnership, AWW, and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  We monitor changes in state policy, regulation and law that could affect the lake, such as the prioritization of water uses by the Governor's Alabama Water Agencies Work Group, tasked to formulate statewide water policy to (among other things) outline Alabama's position in potential interstate water disputes. The committee also monitors proposed changes to the Operations Manual of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers which impacts water flow in the River Basin.

The committee also tracks the Tallapoosa and Little Tallapoosa  rivers and tributaries in Alabama and Georgia, paying particular attention to changes in agricultural, industrial and municipal water uses.  While the LWPOA acknowledges that everyone has a right to the water, with that right comes responsibilities to other water users.  If a significant change occurs in any waterways that feed Lake Wedowee, the years of testing data give us a starting point to compare and see what, if any, negative impacts that change might have on the lake. 

 The committee, through its involvement in the Clean Water Partnership and Water Watch, provides educational programs to local school children on the importance of clean water and what every person can do to keep our water clean. 

Alabama Water Agencies Working Group (AWAWG) held an update at Auburn on April 5 on efforts to build a comprehensive state water policy.  The group has been working behind the scenes to gather input and is due to give findings to the governor this December.  Public release should happen early in 2017.  As some of the findings and potential recommendations could be politically charged, especially inter-basin transfers and riparian rights, little of substance was discussed except for the process of gathering data.  We will continue to watch for any impact on our membership.  A complete rundown with presentations from the various chairmen is at the AWAWG website.   

LWPOA works closely with the Upper Tallapoosa Clean Water Partnership on events that keep our water clean.  Past events include a coordinated effort to cut down on cattle-originated bacteria in Wolf Creek and the Little Tallapoosa River, and most recently an electronics recycling event in Wedowee, a septic tank workshop, and drug take-back event in April.  CWP also works with local schools on clean water education.

January's E-recycling event was a huge success, keeping almost 20,000 pounds of old electronics out of landfills.  The septic tank workshop was attended by 30 people who learned how to maintain their system and avoid expensive repairs.  Vouchers good for $250 toward getting a tank pumped were distributed to winners of a drawing at the workshop.  CWP coordinated publicity for the drug take back that was handled by Randolph Co. Sheriff’s Office and the Roanoke Police Department.  Scores of people brought in hundreds of outdated or unwanted medications, keeping these potentially dangerous substances out of our water system. 

CWP will be holding another electronics recycling on June 4 in Roanoke as part of the Summer on Main event.  It's free to drop off any electronic device, though picture-tube TVs cost $10 and CRT monitors are $5. 

Carl and Mary Ann Engstrom are retiring as water testers during this quarter. Both have been monitoring the Little Tallapoosa arm of the lake for several years and have decided it's time to “retire,” though Mary Ann will continue serving on the POA board.  Thanks for your hard work. 

We are in need of new water monitors both up the Big Tallapoosa and below the Highway 48 bridge.  If you are interested please give me a call at ( 404) 449–3452 (cell).  It's not hard to become an Alabama Water Watch certified chemical and bacteria tester, and your work pays great dividends to the LWPOA membership and to all lake users. 

Until next time, have a safe and happy summer on the water. 

Barry Morris

LWPOA Water Quality Programs