Reduced Water Flows Affect Coosa River's Whitewater Festival
Next week hundreds will be watching kayakers compete at the
Alabama Power is cutting back minimum flows from their dams to improve lake levels upstream. As a result, Whitewater Festival coordinators say the
“I don't think that's cool at all, because I go over there a good bit,” said Heath Woodruff, a frequent kayaker from Wetumpka. Woodruff said the lack of water would, “Rule out kayakers who don't where helmets like me, but some of the other kayakers might be able to do it.”
Woodruff was canoeing with his friend Carter Weeks of Montgomery, who says he's watched the Whitewater Festival since he was a kid. “It would be nice if [Alabama Power] could do it for a day,” Weeks said.
According to Alabama Power, it won’t budge, not even for a day. “If there's no water, there's not much Alabama Power can do about it,” said Mike Jordan with External Affairs at Alabama Power.
The Coosa Paddle Club sponsors the Whitewater Festival, and members say they don't understand why an agreement can't be reached, especially when low water levels threaten kayakers' safety.
When you have water depths that are three feet lower and you have helmet to head to rock contact, that’s not a good thing,” said Chris Carter, a Wetumpka City Councilman who is the owner of Coosa River Adventure.
Carter says the Whitewater Festival will more than likely have to cancel the main event for crowds at the festival: professional kayakers doing tricks on the rapids at Moccasin's Gap.
Your participant that’s coming to witness this is not going to have the show, so it would be much like a Nascar race without drivers,” Carter said.
"If they don’t let the water flow then your not going to have as much as that,” said Weeks as he climbed in his canoe with Woodruff Thursday afternoon. “So it would kinda’ ruin the whole atmosphere.”
Alabama Power says the only way it would consider increasing the flow next week is if
Kayakers are hopeful Mother Nature will come around in time for the festival June 1st, but the weather forecasts don't point towards a big rainstorm in time for the weekend.
Alabama Power received permission to reduce water flows from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week, FERC also called to stop all recreational water releases until conditions improve.