Lake Watch of Lake Martin impacts statewide water policy

Lake Watch of Lake Martin (LWLM) members have been vigilantly watching over the waters of Lake Martin for nearly two decades. Under the leadership of LWLM President, Dick Bronson, the group has monitored lake water quality; conducted lake clean-ups; collaborated with Auburn University, Alabama Power Company, and state agencies in conducting scientific studies* of the lake; and educated countless children and adults on watershed stewardship and how each stakeholder can make a difference in keeping the lake clean.

Since LWLM began water testing in mid-1993, AWW-certified LWLM volunteer monitors have submitted nearly 1,600 water quality records (water chemistry and bacteriological records) from 32 monitoring sites to AWW’s statewide water quality database**.


LWLM monitoring sites on the lake, the Tallapoosa River and tributary streams

Recognizing the high quality of Lake Martin’s waters, and that it is one of the cleanest lakes in the state, Dick began building a case for upgrading the lake’s official use classification. An upgrade to Outstanding Alabama Water (OAW), as was achieved for part of Wolf Bay by the Wolf Bay Watershed Watch group***, would establish stricter water quality standards for the lake, and ultimately provide stricter limits on the amount of pollutants allowed into the lake.

Armed with nearly two decades of dedicated watershed stewardship and 14 years of AWW-certified citizen water quality data, LWLM submitted a formal request to ADEM for OAW classification for the lake in 2006.  However, the request was not approved because the rules for the OAW classification simply didn’t fit a man-made reservoir like Lake Martin – they were written for natural bays and free-flowing rivers and streams.

Through collaboration with ADEM and the Governor’s Office, the idea of creating a new Use Classification for man-made reservoirs emerged. Dick got the call to attend a public ceremony at Children’s Harbor on the beautiful Kowaliga Arm of the lake on December 28th, 2010. Governor Riley made a special appearance to announce the new water Use Classification for the State of Alabama – Treasured Alabama Lake (TAL). This classification applies to any reservoir in Alabama that meets the criteria established for TAL, as Martin does. He also announced that Lake Martin would be the first lake in the state to earn TAL status. Details are still being developed for the official TAL classification, but as Governor Riley put it  “what does it (TAL) do ultimately…it says that no matter what happens over the next generation, the water here (in Lake Martin) will never be degraded from what it is today.”

Watch the video           

Many thanks go to the leadership of Governor Riley, and Mr. Lance Lefleur, Director of ADEM, and particularly to the tireless efforts of LWLM volunteers and their tenacious leader, Dick Bronson – job well done!!

 

*See the following links for more information on LWLM collaboration with scientific studies: Tallapoosa Watershed Project, Alabama Power Lake Study, Sandy Creek Watershed Study)

**To access the AWW statewide online database, go to www.alabamawaterwatch.org, and click WATER DATA).

***For more information on OAW classification for Wolf Bay see Outstanding Alabama Water (OAW)).