The flip side of Lake Martin’s growing popularity includes the challenge of residential bank stabilization. Seawalls and riprap are the most common methods of erosion prevention around the lake, but other options might be available as well. To put measures in place before next year’s boating season, start the process now.

Lake Martin is managed by Alabama Power, which requires that a permit be obtained prior to any bank stabilization, even that on private property at the lake. The permitting process includes a seven-page application form and a review process that can take several months, depending on the property’s location and the type of the proposed erosion control you plan to implement. By starting the permit process now, you could be ready to begin shoreline work as soon as the annual 7-foot drawdown of the water level has been reached.

The permit guidelines form can be downloaded at The better acquainted a homeowner is with information in the guidelines, the more smoothly the process could be, so don’t skim through the guidelines in a hurry and think you’ve got it: Arm yourself with a highlighter and a cup of coffee to help you stay alert and jot down questions as you carefully read the size 10 type – all seven pages of it.

Take your questions to the Shoreline Management office at 1296 S. Tallassee St., Dadeville, or call the office at 256-825-0053. While you’re talking with the office personnel, ask them to check the GPS coordinates for your property to see if there are any sensitive issues located in your area that could add time or requirements to your permitting process. There aren’t very many of these areas on Lake Martin, so this is an easy answer in most cases.

If you live in a neighborhood with architectural oversight, check with the board for any covenants, regulations or recommendations to make sure your design will comply. 

Then, select an engineer to design your bank stabilization project. Be sure to choose a reputable, experienced engineer, as Alabama Power does not approve the design or engineering of the structure you propose. They approve the type of structure you want (seawall, dock, boathouse, etc.), its size, location, materials and purpose. Its ownership, construction, operation and maintenance are your responsibility.

When your design is complete, you must file a permit application, along with the design and any other pertinent paperwork (read the guidelines), pay the appropriate permitting fee and gain approval before beginning any work at the site.

In addition to regulating the shoreline management required in the company’s license to operate Martin Dam, Alabama Power’s permitting program provides a format for helping homeowners protect their lakeshore property from erosion.

More information is available in the brochure Shoreline Management Practices, which can be downloaded at the website.