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Corps stops issuing dock permits as Lanier's level drops
Water hasn't been this low since March 2009
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended issuing any further dock permits on Lake Lanier, a process it rebooted in January 2010, as the lake's elevation has dropped below 1,063 feet above sea level.

"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.

And judging by corps' projections, that won't be any time soon.

Barring some major rain, Lake Lanier is predicted to drop to 1,059.1 feet by late October.

The last time the lake was at that level was March 2009, during the 2007-2009 drought.

At 1,059 feet, the lake would stand 12 feet below the full pool of 1,071 feet and 8 feet and a few inches above the historic low of 1,050.79 feet set on Dec. 26, 2007.

Wednesday afternoon, the lake's elevation was 1,062.84 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The corps restarted the dock review process with the intent of issuing the remaining 187 permits on the lake.

Its management plan and an accompanying Environmental Impact Statement completed in 2004 had set the limit of docks at 10,615.

Expecting a large number of applicants, the corps held a lottery in October 2009 to determine the order of reviewing applications.

Ernest Noe, chief ranger for the corps, has said officials had expected some 2,000 applications and were surprised when only 281 people applied.

As of Aug. 31, the corps had issued 80 permits, turned down 125 applications and had another 13 recommendations pending, according to its website.

The corps had visited potential dock sites as part of its application review, but those visits also will be discontinued, Coghlan said.

Rain had been forecast for throughout this week via thunderstorms and showers, as a wet weather system was expected to stall over the region.

As of Wednesday afternoon, however, only one-tenth of an inch had fallen this week at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Rain is still expected, with a 60 percent chance of storms today and a 40 percent of storms Friday.

Skies should clear by Saturday with temperatures hovering in the upper 70s through the weekend.

Forecasters have said the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, which runs until Nov. 30, is the region's best shot for drought-busting rainfall, as September and October are typically among the driest months of the year.

Tropical Storm Ophelia, situated between South America and Africa, is becoming stronger as it moves across the Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Hall County, meanwhile, is in moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

A new drought report is due today based on data collected through 7 a.m. Tuesday.