Lake Thurlow to be lowered further

Alabama Power officials announced the installation of the new spillways on Thurlow Dam is complete and the contactor overseeing the construction is now demobilizing.

Water levels on lake Thurlow should soon be back to normal levels now that Alabama Power officials announced the installation of the new spillways on Thurlow Dam is complete and the contactor overseeing the construction is now demobilizing.

Water levels on Lake Thurlow were lowered by 4 feet or more this summer as part of spillway gate replacement at the dam. During the drawdown, water levels were held between 278 and 279 feet.

The original spillway gates were installed in the 1920s.

The replacements, called Obermeyer gates, are constructed of steel and will be more efficient than the old 36-gate flashboard system. The new spillway gates use adjustable, inflatable bladders to control the gates and more accurately manage water resources.

"The new gates will allow better control of the flow over the spillway," Thurlow Dam superintendent Joel Johnson said.

Alabama Power worked with the Alabama Historical Commission and the University of Alabama to research Thurlow Dam when designing the new gates. The dam was built on the site of an early 19th-century textile mill.

The new design will feature only four spans that operate independently across the top of the dam and resemble the historical look of the original dam.

Decades ago, locals promoted Thurlow Dam as the "Niagara of the South" for the way the Tallapoosa River spills over the dam when all the gates were open.

"This will look and feel like the Thurlow we all know and remember," Johnson said.

The work was done during the summer months to take advantage of the warmer, drier weather.