Alabama Power strives to protect and enhance the scenic, recreational, environmental and cultural values of the reservoirs it manages for the benefit of all lake users and residents.
One of the most important ways to accomplish these goals is through the shoreline permitting process.
Shoreline managers help maintain Alabama Power’s ability to manage flood conditions on each river system by administering easement and construction standards specific to each lake. If you’re looking to build or modify anything on the lake, you will need a permit granting access before you begin work.
Each of Alabama Power’s reservoirs have different characteristics, sensitive environmental resources, and ownership rights. The company owns the land under full pool elevations on all reservoirs.
For each permit, Shoreline Management team members make as many as two to three site visits. This close and careful review ensures each permitted project meets lake- and river-specific guidelines. This process can take up to 30 days or more depending on the required reviews.
Once a permit has been granted, the homeowner is responsible for contractors who are working on their property. Performing work without a permit can result in fines and may impact environmentally sensitive areas.
For example, Smith Lake is home to the flattened musk turtle, a threatened species found nowhere else but in the upper reaches of the Black Warrior River watershed. In 2012, Alabama Power, in coordination with federal officials, updated the company’s shoreline permitting requirements for areas on Smith Lake identified as habitat or potential habitat for flattened musk turtle. In 2020, the permitting requirements were again evaluated and expanded to include other listed species on the lake.
Under the revised guidelines, when seawalls fall into disrepair and reconstruction is required, or when erosion issues need to be addressed, residents in the identified areas must use a more natural method to stabilize the shoreline. Known as enhanced natural stabilization, or ENS, the method is proving effective in helping support turtle populations.
Other examples include construction restrictions for protected mollusks found in portions of the Coosa River, including significant portions of Lake Mitchell. These construction restrictions are included with residential permitting requirements that are issued to homeowners. These protective measures allow shoreline projects to take place while minimizing impacts to these important species.
Alabama Power’s permitting process complies with federal and state regulations. Following permitting guidelines not only protects homeowners, but it is also important for the protection of our state’s beautiful natural resources.
Those considering any work along the shoreline of Alabama Power’s lakes are encouraged to contact their local Alabama Power Shoreline Management Office and to obtain a permit before beginning work.
To learn more about the permitting process or to apply for a permit, please visit apcshorelines.com/permits.