Leaders of four groups in Cherokee County, Alabama have signed off on a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking that the water level at Weiss Lake be held closer to the normal summer levels for an extra month this fall.
Representatives of Save Weiss Lake, Angler Unlimited, the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce and Cherokee County Commission all endorsed the request which was sent to Kristina Mullins — chief of staff for the Mobile District of the Corps of Engineers.
Earlier this year, the corps reported that it did not get funds in its annual budget to conduct a full-scale study of the impact of raising the winter pool to benefit anglers, property owners and the impact of tourism on the Cherokee County economy.
Save Weiss Lake President Tom Taylor said this past winter lake residents used their lake property longer, could launch their boats longer — all of which helped the economy of the area.
The full summer pool has the water level at 564 feet above sea level while the winter pool is 558 feet.
The corps takes the lake level down in the fall and winter, generally right after Labor Day, to provide capacity for the normal winter rainfall. The draw down also protects property owners from flooding in those years when rainfall is unusually heavy.
The lake is usually allowed to starting filling to summer pool in April.
In his latest letter to Mullins, Taylor said the organization presented corps officials a plan back in January 2016 to maintain the full summer pool an extra month in the fall and bring it back to summer pool a month earlier than usual in the spring.
“It just so happens that the corps implemented ‘plan B’ in 2016, with the stated reason being because of the drought conditions. This action had a very significant effect on our area. The fishing season was longer and the tourism that it spawned had a very positive effect,” Taylor said in his letter.
Jerry Culberson, president of Anglers Unlimited, said he could see an impact of the decision on activity at his Weiss Lake Lodge during those two months.
“We need to get anything we can get, this is a shallow lake and when water gets down 2 or 3 feet it causes a lot of problems getting into some areas for recreation or fishing,” Culberson said. “I wish they would leave it up all the time but I know that’s never going to happen.”
In his letter to the Corps, Taylor asked, “Beginning in 2017 the Corps of Engineers implement plan B on a permanent basis until such time that the Corps can complete the formal study.”
Taylor said he has not heard back from the Corps yet.
“I didn’t expect that I would,” Taylor said. “The precedent is kind of there. Whether they will do it for the sake of it being something good to do or do they have to have a specific reason like the drought I don’t know.”