The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages regional water resources, said Monday at a court hearing in Jacksonville it will announce by Dec. 7 whether to cut water flows by another 5 percent.
The Corps has already agreed to reduce the flow of water from Lanier - Atlanta's main water source - by about 5 percent to 3.1 billion gallons. The cuts began on Friday. The plan could ultimately reduce releases from the lake by as much as 17 percent, depending on lake levels.
Lake Lanier has become a focal point in a three-state water fight that has been intensified by a historic drought.
Drought-stricken Georgia has complained the federal government sent millions of gallons of water downstream even as Lanier has fallen to record lows. But Florida and Alabama have balked at Georgia's effort to keep more water, arguing that its demands were unreasonable and that reducing the flows downstream could cripple their economies.
The fast-growing Atlanta region relies on the lake for drinking water. But power plants in Florida and Alabama depend on healthy river flows, as do farms, commercial fisheries, industrial users and municipalities. The Corps also is required to release adequate flows to ensure habitats for species protected by the Endangered Species Act, such as the mussels.