The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is again asking for public comment on a proposed update to the document that outlines management for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which includes Lake Lanier.
The process to update the Master Water Control Manual has been in the works for years but was thrown into limbo as the courts went back and forth on what Lake Lanier’s water could be used for.
The corps first had a scoping period in 2008 as it began the process to update the manual, which was developed in 1958, shortly after Lake Lanier was formed.
The corps then had a second scoping period after a 2009 ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson that severely limited the use of Lanier’s water as a drinking source. That ruling was seen as a major setback for Georgia in its fight to control the water that flows from Lake Lanier along the Alabama border and empties into the Apalachicola Bay in Florida. Then in June 2011, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that water supply was an originally intended authorized use of Lake Lanier, reversing Magnuson’s decision.
“As a result of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruling in June 2011 and the June 2012 legal opinion of the corps’ chief counsel regarding authority to accommodate municipal and industrial water supply from the Buford Dam/Lake Lanier project, we are resuming the manual update process,” said E. Patrick Robbins, Mobile District public affairs officer.
The corps, as part of this update, will consider a broader range of water supply alternatives, including current levels of water supply withdrawals and increased withdrawals, from Lake Lanier. The corps will not hold hearings as it did in 2008. The public can comment on the Environmental Impact Statement through Dec. 12.
“We had scoping periods in 2008 and 2009 when we first began the manual update process,” Robbins said. “Any comments previously submitted will be reviewed and addressed in the current re-scoping so comments previously provided do not need to be resubmitted.”
Most of those comments came from government agencies, and after the last time the comment period ended the corps had expected to have the document completed within two years.