The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started in January 2010 with 186 remaining dock permits to issue on Lake Lanier. Here's an update on the process so far:
97 permits have been approved.
126 requests have been denied.
89 permits remain.
94 individual requests are still pending review.
Source: Ernest Noe, chief ranger with the corps, Lake Lanier
Maybe this time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be able to finish the job.
The corps has resumed reviewing dock permit applications now that the lake is staying above 1,064 feet above sea level, said Ernest Noe, chief ranger for Lanier's shoreline management.
Lanier's 2004 Shoreline Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement set the limit of docks at 10,615. The corps stopped issuing permits when drought struck the Southeast in 2007 and dropped water levels to a historic low of 1,050.79 feet above sea level on Dec. 26, 2007.
As the state pulled out of the drought in 2009, the corps resumed the dock review process in January 2010 with the intent of issuing the remaining 186 permits on the lake.
But then another dry period followed, with the lake dropping to as low as 1,057.91 feet on Nov. 14. So the corps again stopped the process in September.
"The permit process will be suspended until the elevation of the reservoir is sustained at 1,064 (feet)," said Lisa Coghlan, corps spokeswoman for the Mobile District, at the time.
The lake clipped the 1,064-foot mark March 3 and, as of Friday afternoon, stood at 1,065.49 feet. Winter full pool is 1,070 feet above sea level. The summer full pool, which starts May 1, is 1,071 feet.
"We have started calling the remaining requestors on our lottery list to initiate site visits to review the specific sites for proposed dock permits," Noe said.
When the corps restarted the permit process after the 2009 drought, it went to a lottery system to rank the priority of site reviews. Previously, the corps reviewed permits on a first-come, first-served basis.
Noe said the corps has 89 permits remaining to issue and has 95 individual applications to review. Since starting the lottery system, the corps has approved 97 permits and rejected 126 requests.
If the 44 percent approval rate continues, there's a chance the corps could go through the rest of the review process and not exhaust the permits.
In that case, the corps will return to the first-come, first-served basis to issue the remaining permits, as called for under the Shoreline Management Plan, Noe said.
Lanier is projected to rise to 1,066.8 feet by April 21, according to latest projects from the Mobile District.
Despite the increase, Hall County, along with most of Georgia, still is in some level of drought.
Hall has the mildest form, "abnormally dry," while parts of Middle and South Georgia are at the worst level, exceptional drought, according the U.S. Drought Monitor's latest update on Thursday.
Rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast through Saturday, with dry conditions returning next week, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.