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Lanier’s level creeping back up after rains, reduced releases

POSTED: January 2, 2013 12:10 p.m.

Lake Lanier has risen above 1,058 feet above sea level for the first time since Nov. 23.

The lake has been steadily rising since Dec. 19, when the lake had fallen to 1,056.33 feet, the lowest it had been since Jan. 16, 2009, when the area was in the throes of a fierce two-year drought.

Winter full pool, which began Dec. 1 and ends April 30, is 1,070 feet. Summer full pool, which runs from May 1 to Nov. 30, is 1,071 feet.

Since the 2007-09 drought, which drained Lanier to a historic low of 1,050.79 feet on Dec. 26, 2007, Georgia has returned to dry conditions.

The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin, which includes Lanier at the northern end, has been particularly dry.

The Hall County area has gotten much-needed relief over the past couple of weeks. The National Weather Service in Peachtree City is reporting that Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville picked up nearly 1.5 inches of rain Monday and early Tuesday.

Also, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last month that it had agreed to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ request to reduce releases from Lake Sidney Lanier at Buford Dam to 650 cubic feet per second from 750 cfs in an effort to conserve as much storage as possible in Lake Lanier.

“Conditions in the middle and lower basin reservoirs over the past several weeks have improved slightly,” the corps stated in a drought report.

The lake stood at 1,058.13 feet Wednesday evening, up about 1 foot from the previous week.

Drought conditions also have eased slightly in the past week.

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest report, issued last Thursday based on data collected through 7 a.m. Tuesday, showed that while Hall was maintaining its moderate drought status, surrounding areas were no longer in extreme drought.

Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, has said she has concerns about current levels.

“Unless we get some sort of (weather) front to fill it back up, we certainly don’t want to enter the summer at a low (point),” she said.

Lake level fluctuations “certainly (have) been a hardship on our members,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association.

“There’s a property investment there,” she said. “Those docks need to be moved in and out, and that is not an easy task. It’s not like moving a car in your driveway. There’s quite a few of our members who are elderly and can’t do it.”

 


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