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State seeks reduction of water flow from Lake Lanier

POSTED: October 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

The level of Lake Lanier continues to dwindle, as can be seen in this view near Clarks Bridge Park on Monday. Georgia is asking for a temporary reduction through April of the amount of water released from Buford Dam.

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The state of Georgia has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permission to reduce the water discharge from Buford Dam from Nov. 1 through April 30, 2009.

The request, which was made by Carol Couch, director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said reducing the flow at Peachtree Creek, near Atlanta, to 650 cubic feet per second will save 11.7 billion gallons of water in Lake Lanier. Combined with current conservation measures, Couch estimates the reduced flow would result in saving 20.64 billion gallons.

Earlier this year, the corps approved an identical reduction from March through May.

In her letter, Couch said that during the earlier reduction there was no adverse impact on water quality in the Chattahoochee River.

"Water quality data collected during the period when reduced flows were in effect indicated no adverse water quality impacts associated with the reduced flows, and no other adverse impacts have either been observed or reported," Couch wrote in her letter to Col. Byron Jorns, district commander of the corps in Mobile, Ala.

Shawn Davis, a spokesman for Lake Lanier Islands resort, said the Virgil Williams family, which operates the islands, is hopeful the request will be granted.

"We fully support Dr. Couch’s request," Davis said.

"She has clearly made the case for reducing further the excessive water releases from Buford Dam. It is absolutely necessary that we keep as much storage as possible at the top of the system in order to augment flows only when necessary."

The proposed reduction comes as Lake Lanier continues to decline following September rains associated with Tropical Storm Fay that increased the lake level by nearly two feet. The level has declined by more than two feet since the peak reached around Labor Day.

The corps has asked agencies and stakeholders to comment on the request by Oct. 27.



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