Despite a good dumping of rain this week across the Hall County area, Flat Creek hasn’t become the polluted mess that it was after a torrential storm Aug. 10.
“We’ve had some higher amounts and higher stream levels, but a lot of the water we’ve received has just soaked into the ground in a lot of places, because of the dryness we’ve had,” said Brian Wiley, Gainesville’s environmental monitoring coordinator.
“So, we have just not seen that massive accumulation of litter that we had seen back (in late summer).”
Flat Creek, a 6-mile waterway that snakes through Gainesville and West Hall, has long been an area of environmental concern, including being listed on the state Environmental Protection Division’s Impaired Water List.
But even longtime residents got a jolt when they saw the thick bed of trash floating in Flat Creek Cove, which empties into Lake Lanier, the morning following the storm, which produced 4 inches of rain in about 90 minutes.
“It was such a heavy rain that it basically ... cleaned Flat Creek out from downtown Gainesville to Lake Lanier,” Horace Gee Jr., Gainesville’s environmental services administrator, said at the time.
Recent rains have been steady and longer-lasting, helping to relieve drought conditions and raise Lake Lanier’s levels.
According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, more than 2 inches of rain had fallen at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville between midnight Sunday and Wednesday afternoon.
And the lake stood at 1,059.83 feet above sea level Wednesday, the highest it has been since Nov. 10, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Lanier. Winter full pool is 1,070 feet.
“We’ve been really blessed with what we’ve received the last several days,” Wiley said. “We’ve had some good soaking stuff, not a massive amount of flooding in this area.”
In a community cleanup effort in mid-September, more than 200 volunteers pulled some 2,740 pounds of trash from Flat Creek.
“Maybe that’ll continue,” Wiley said. “Maybe the message got across to a lot of folks that you need to be cautious as to where you put (trash).”
After the cleanup, he said, “We’ll continue to push the concept and understanding that anything you leave on the ground or toss out goes into the storm system and then into a waterway.”
Cecilia Lankford, a resident of Ridgewood Point, which overlooks the cove, has noticed a big improvement.
“The water is coming up, but as far as pollution, trash and stuff, it’s amazingly clear right now,” she said Wednesday. “Whether there’s junk trapped (upstream) and it takes more water to bring it (into the cove), I don’t know.”