Press Releases

Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River; drought operation to begin

Published May 1, 2012

MOBILE, Ala. – Drought conditions continue to affect the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River basins triggering the requirement for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enter drought operations.  

“Stream flows are reaching historic low levels throughout the basin and have already set record lows on the Flint River due to lack of normal winter and spring rains,” Mobile District Public Affairs Officer E. Patrick Robbins, said.  “These extreme low flows have driven the composite conservation storage in the Federal reservoirs to the Zone 4 level which triggers drought operations.”            

Today, Lake Sidney Lanier will reach a level of 1065; West Point Lake 630; and Walter F. George 186.8.  Under the Revised Interim Operations Plan (RIOP) for Jim Woodruff Dam, drought operations are instituted when the composite project conservation storage reaches Zone 4 at the Federal reservoirs.            

“By entering drought operations, the minimum flow into the Apalachicola River to protect threatened and endangered species becomes 5,000 cubic feet per second,” Robbins said.  “We will maintain this minimum flow and store all available rainfall when possible until the basin recovers sufficiently to come out of drought operations.”  

Despite spring rains in March at several locations throughout the basin, the overall conditions on the Flint and lower portions of the Chattahoochee have remained in a drought situation since the end of last summer.  As the limited spring rains stopped, the inflow conditions throughout the basin have steadily dropped since March.            

“At this time the long range forecast for the ACF basin does not look promising,” Robbins said.  “It will take significant and frequent storm events to recharge the basin hydrology, or a tropical system, before operations and lake levels return to normal.”     

Due to the low lake levels, recreational users of the Federal reservoirs are reminded to use caution when boating and to always wear a personal flotation device.  Swimmers are cautioned to also use a flotation device and to swim with a buddy at all times.            

The drought situation in the Southeast has affected other basins as well.  The Corps has previously approved lower flow targets on the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa Rivers for Alabama Power reservoirs.            

To get the latest information on drought operations and lake levels please visit our website at

Lorraine Sutton Evans

Release no. 12-009