March 27, 2017
On February 3, 2017 Georgia Power conducted a spillway gate inspection of Tallulah Falls Dam. These inspections are conducted on a five year frequency in coordination with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Atlanta Regional Office (ARO). The recent inspection identified components on some spillway gates that need to be strengthened to remain safe. Although failure of the affected gates is not imminent, Georgia Power determined it prudent to reduce load (water pressure) on the spillway gates as an interim safety measure until repairs could be coordinated. FERC concurred with this decision.
On March 15, 2017, the Tallulah Falls Lake was lowered 2.5 feet below normal elevation to implement the interim safety measure. During the repair period the lake will be drawn down an additional amount of 4.5 feet beginning on Sunday March 26th to an elevation of 1492.0. This elevation is 7’ feet below normal summer pool. This elevation could vary slightly depending on the water level needed for the barges. A repair plan for the affected spillway gates has been filed with FERC ARO and approved. The contractor has been procured and equipment mobilization has begun. We expect repair work to be completed over a five week period and refill could begin as early as the first week of May.
Because whitewater and aesthetic flow releases are discharged through the spillway gates into Tallulah Gorge, the emergency repair work will require the cancellation of whitewater release weekends scheduled for April 1 and 2, and April 8 and 9, and aesthetic flow releases scheduled for April 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 and May 6 and 7. Pending adequate inflows, the aesthetic flows schedule could be resumed for the final two scheduled weekends on May 13, 14, 20, and 21. A determination will be made at a later date on when to reschedule the spring whitewater flow weekends.
Conducting this repair work now is the best option for balancing the many resource uses of the North Georgia Hydroelectric Project as it prioritizes public safety, minimizes the impact to recreation at Tallulah Falls State Park and recreation facilities on Tallulah Falls Lake, and provide the best effort at minimizing reservoir fluctuation during spring fish spawning.
This notice was prepared to assist in making notifications to recreation users, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the FERC Department of Hydro Administration and Compliance (FERC DHAC), which oversees Georgia Power’s compliance with its operating license.
If you have any questions regarding this notice or require additional information, please contact our office at 1-706-746-1450 or GPCNGLANDMGT@southernco.com.