How the River Systems Are Managed

Lake Levels and Water Releases from Corps Lakes

Nearly everyone likes to go the lake whether for fishing, swimming, boating picnicking, or just sightseeing. But often the lake is not full. The water is either higher or lower than when last visited. What makes the lake levels go up and down? Are changes in some lake levels necessary? Why are some lakes always full and others go up and down? This web page will answer some of these questions.

Wet and Dry Seasons

In the Southeast, rain falls in nearly every month. However, the need for water in the Summer and Fall can often exceed the natural supply. One important function of lakes is to store water when there is an abundance for use when it is scarce. Most of the big lakes were built to serve many purposes. It is in serving these purposes, which are outlined below, that water is released causing a fall in lake levels.

Management Decisions

The Water Management Section makes daily decisions and coordinates regularly with representatives from the various areas for which the river systems are operated -- hydropower, recreation, navigation, environmental, public affairs and others areas, to exchange information concerning the operation of the river systems. Daily water management decisions are determined using the information obtained along with current project and basin data. A weekly District River System Status report is prepared that summarizes the conditions in each of the river basins. Operation of the lakes on the ACF system are also guided by use of action zones. The action zones provide guidelines on meeting the project purposes for each lake. What are these purposes and why are they important?

·         Hydropower

·         Navigation

·         Water Quality and Water Supply

·         Flood Control

·         Fish and Wildlife

·         Recreation

Return to Water Management Home Page

For additional information, contact Water Management at (251) 690-2717
or by email at:


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