Hydrologic Modifications

Hydrologic modifications chatt
Langdale Dam (Valley, AL to Harris County, GA) – Photo by Marianne Phillips

The Chattahoochee is one of the most dammed rivers in the southeast.

Alabama’s section of the Chattahoochee River is basically one long lake. The nine dams that impound the river between West Point Dam and Walter F. George leave only short fragmented habitat isolated between an upstream dam and the backwaters of the next downstream impoundment. Fish in tailwaters suffer from scouring, stranding of rapid flow flutuactions and low DO from the hypolimnetic releases or from the crowding of fish by dropping water conditions.

“The construction of dams in riverine ecosystems abruptly, severely, and permanently alters many important physical and biological processes involving the movement of water, energy, sediments, nutrients, and biota.” (Gup, 1994)

Earliest federal work on the Chattahoochee was authorized in 1874 to provide a 4-foot channel for steamboat traffic up the river to Columbus, GA across the river from Phenix City. The River and Harbor Act of 1945-46 introduced a plan to establish a 9-foot channel from the Gulf to Phenix City and Columbus.

Of the four dams described below, only Andrews does not generate power.

The WEST POINT DAM which forms WEST POINT LAKE is the site of the Chattahoochee’s big left-hand turn at the Georgia / Alabama border. From hence, it heads south towards Florida. It is here that the river encounters its third impoundment (the first two being Lake Lanier-Buford Dam north of Atlanta and Bull Sluice Lake-Morgan Falls Dam) West Point Lake.

Built and operated by the Corps of Engineers, the lake extends 35 miles between Franklin and West Point, Georgia and creates 26,000 acres of water surface and 500 miles of shoreline. Construction was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1962 with actual construction beginning in October 1974. The lake releases water to provide adequate navigation depth and holds water during the rainy season to protect downstream farms and towns from flooding. This was the first Army Corps project in the Southeast to be built with recreation as one of the primary benefits.

After several devastating floods to the river town of West Point (in 1886, 1919, and 1961) resulting in one death, Congress authorized a dam in 1962 because the town was always rebuilt.

West Point Lake has two lazy marinas and a strictly enforced 100 yard setback for development.located about 3 miles upstream from Lanett in Chambers County. Impoundment of the lake began in 1974 and commercial power operations began in 1975. There is no navigation lock at this site. The lake extends about 37 miles upstream to the vicinity of Franklin, GA. Provides some flood protection for West Point, Lanett, Langdale, Riverview, Phenix City below the dam. The power plant produces power for about 24,000 homes. 25,900 acres and a shoreline of 525 miles. 1994 visitation was 2,145,966.

West Point was the last dam to be completed on the Chattahoochee in 1975. The river is free-flowing for 120 miles from the Morgan Falls Dam in GA to the upper part of West Point Lake. The dam is built and operated by the Corps. The City of LaGrange uses the lake as water supply and discharge location. West Point is the third most visited reservoir (for recreation) of all the ACF reservoirs.

Unfortunately, due to point and non-point source pollution coming from the greater Atlanta metropolitan area West Point Lake began to become eutrophic within 8 years of dam completion. The outcry from these water quality problems resulted in Georgia creating strict controls on phosphate releases to water.

Below West Point dam is a series of eight hydropower dams along just 32 miles of river. The first two, Langdale and Riverview have very small unnamed reservoirs. The next dam is.

All three dams are Georgia Power Company run-of-river hydropwer facilities. Lake Harding is also used for water supply. Located about 7 miles northwest of Columbus, GA. Surface area is 5,850 acres. Bartlett´┐Żs Ferry produces more hydroelectric power than any other dam on the Chattahoochee generating 173 MW.

Sits just below Bartlett’s Ferry and about 10 miles above Columbus, GA. Georgia Power Company dam. 1,000 acres of surface area. Run-of-river.

GPCO Run of river project. Serves as main water supply for the City of Columbus.

There are three small run-of river dams downstream of Oliver at Columbus, Georgia. North Highlands dam operated by GPCO, City Mills Dam operated by City Mills, and the Eagle-Phenix Dam operated by Eagle and Phenix Mill. City Mills Dam and Eagle Phenix dam are currently inoperative.

The WALTER F. GEORGE DAM which forms LAKE EUFALA is the largest dam in the basin and is second only to Bartlett’s Ferry in its capacity for hydroelectric power, generating 130 MW for approximately 56,000 homes. Built, owned, and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers it is the second most visited dam in the basin, after Lanier. Located about one mile north of Fort Gaines, Georgia, the dam sits partly in Henry County, Alabama. Construction began in 1955 and was completed in 1963. The lock has a lift of 88 feet, one of the highest in the nation.

Lake Eufaula extends 85 miles up the river to Phenix City covering an area of about 45,200 acres and having a shoreline 640 miles long. Alabama’s Lakepoint State Park sits on the reservoir north of Eufala. This reservoir is referred to as the Walter F. George Lake in Georgia (named in honor of the Georgia senator) and as Lake Eufala in Alabama in honor of the town.

The GEORGE W. ANDREWS LOCK AND DAM which forms ANDREWS LAKE is located about one mile south of Columbia, Alabama, in Houston County. Construction began in 1959 and was completed in 1963. Lake George W. Andrews remains mostly within the original river banks for 28 miles to Walter F. George dam upstream. Water monitoring station. The state of Alabama has leased an area on the lake at Omussee Creek for park development. There is no hydropower at this facility. Navigation lock and dam. This is the least visited reservoir project in the Chattahoochee system.

Four dams span the Chattahoochee at Columbus. Five more north of the city to West Point. Six of these generate hydroelectric power. The majority of these dams are spillways (most of the water flows over the top)

The JIM WOODRUFF LOCK AND DAM which forms LAKE SEMINOLE was formed in 1957 at the Chattahoochee / Flint junction.

Of the Chattahoochee’s 434 total miles, 277 miles are impounded.