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Corps to release more water from Lanier
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Friday it will release more water from Lake Lanier because of drought conditions affecting the river basin in Georgia, eastern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

According to Lisa Parker, a spokeswoman for the corps, water will now leave Lanier at a rate of 2,500 cubic feet per second, up from the minimum release of 1,100 cubic feet per second.

The release is to make up for historical inflow lows on the Flint River, which flows from south of Atlanta through central and south Georgia and joins the Chattahoochee River at Lake Seminole. From there, they flow as the Apalachicola south to the Gulf of Mexico.

More water also will be released from West Point Lake near LaGrange on the Chattahoochee.

“There’s not impoundments on the Flint,” Parker said. “That’s our biggest issue we have right now. We’re seeing historical inflows that are negative coming off the Flint. We’ve drawn down (Walter F.) George (Lake) as much as we can draw it down.

“Now we’re having to make increases at Buford (Dam) and West Point in order to meet those needs south of West Point.”

Weather forecasts aren’t predicting rain in the region over the next two weeks, and more water is needed at Lake Seminole and Walter F. George. Parts of eastern Alabama and central Georgia are in extreme drought, with some parts of Georgia in the worst category of exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

Hall County is not currently in drought, though the southern portion is abnormally dry.

“Hopefully in the next three or four weeks we’ll be able to get some rain and back off the releases up there at Lanier and West Point,” Parker said. “Unfortunately, though, we’re still in a sustainable drought.”

Parker said the Chattahoochee River system is taking the bulk of the responsibility to feed the system with adequate water flow.

“We’re at 80- to 100-year inflow lows on the Flint River system,” she said. “So everything’s having to come off the Chattahoochee. I wish we had impoundments on the Flint River, but unfortunately we don’t.”

Lake Lanier, which holds about 67 percent of the conservation water, is at the head of the river system.

The corps is required by law to release at least 4,500 cubic feet per second out of Woodruff Dam on Lake Seminole because of the endangered species that make their home in the southern end of the river system.

Parker said there have been no real consequences yet to that ecosystem, due in large part to the tropical storms over the summer.

Those storms, she said, have allowed the releases at Lake Lanier to remain at the minimum requirement since May. But September and October are traditionally been dry months.

“I’m hoping, like everyone else, we’ll get some rain and bump back out of this,” said Parker.

Lake Lanier was at 1,062.28 feet above sea level as of Friday evening, down about 0.3 feet since that time last week. Full pool is 1,071 feet.


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