About Georgia’s Woodruff Dam and Lake Seminole

Lake Seminole and Jim Woodruff Dam was completed
in 1957. It’s original authorized purpose were hydropower, navigation and subsequently
over the years, recreation has been added through various acts of Congress, as part
of the overall project purposes. The navigation aspect was created to provide navigation from
the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint system, up the Flint River to Bainbridge.
And up the Chattahoochee system to Columbus. That also included a series of other dams.
George Andrews Dam just above us and then above that was Walter F. George Dam. Those
dams and Woodruff are the three navigation dams on the system. Woodruff is the first
one that was built in 1957. Followed by, I believe, Walter F George and Andrews at about
the same time, 1962 timeframe. This dam has three turbines that provide about 43 megawatt
hours of generation through the turbines. It’s part of a network that ties into our
power systems in the Florida area and we work with the Southeastern Power Administration,
which is the government marketing agency to market the power generated here to preference
customers which are small utilities located in the rural areas. The energy generated from
the project helps to pay for the project itself. The revenues generated from the energy goes
back to the US Treasury which in turn funds the project to provide operation and maintenance.
On the upper end of the system, of course, in the metro Atlanta area is the issue of
water supply. Lake Lanier on the upper end of the system at the headwaters of the ACF
system provides water supply for the metro Atlanta area which has continued to grow.
And in the mid to late 80’s that became a contentious issue which prompted the lawsuits
against the Corps by the States of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. And it’s referred to
as the water wars. And so to try to meet the needs of that metro area, we’ve had to operate
the projects to try and supply water supply while still trying to meet all the other project
purposes. At the upper end of the system you have several lakes that support flood control
and water quality of the water supply, so the entire system has to take a look at all
those demands on the system and try to meet those as best we can. During times of increased
flows like we’re experiencing right now, where it’s kind of in the flood season, that’s not
a problem because you’ve got adequate water, but when you get into the drought conditions,
that’s when the problems arise. Because there’s just not enough water for every purpose to
be fully met. For instance, during droughts, navigation tends to decline and become nonexistent
because there’s just not enough water to support navigation. And then the other purposes, hydropower,
water supply and water quality become limited due to the drought conditions. And then it’s
a balancing act, trying to meet those purposes and be equitable to all the needs on the system.
One of our biggest challenges here at the project is in the lake itself we have invasive
plants that are non-native species, hydrilla and several other plants that tend to inundate
areas around the shoreline and becomes a hazard for boaters and fisherman. And then during
high water, here is when all this grass breaks loose, they start to clog up the turbines
and present a problem there. What you see, just in the tailrace is some remnants of water
hyacinth and other weeds that have come through the dam and found its way downstream. On the
other stream side, especially in appearance when it’s really bad, it will be so bad that
they have to shut off the turbines, rake some of these weeds out and pull them away from
the turbines so that we can get the most efficient use of the turbines.

1 thought on “About Georgia’s Woodruff Dam and Lake Seminole

  1. Thank you for the overview. My family was from Seminole County. Have spent many days on the Jim Woodruff. I am told the commercial barge traffic has ended but the locks are still operable and available by appointment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *