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Forsyth commissioners OK funds for 2 lake groups
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CUMMING — Forsyth County plans to fund two organizations that advocate for Lake Lanier.

In a 4-0 vote during Tuesday’s work session, the board of commissioners agreed to give $10,000 each to the Lake Lanier Association and 1071 Coalition in hopes of helping an ailing Lake Lanier. Chairman Charles Laughinghouse was absent.

Commissioners directed County Attorney Ken Jarrard to draft a document outlining the basics of the agreement with both the 1071 Coalition and Lake Lanier Association, which will be voted on again at next week’s regular meeting.

Representatives from both groups fielded questions from board members during Tuesday’s meeting.

The lake is the main source of water for Forsyth, Hall and neighboring counties, as well as much of metro Atlanta. Alabama, Florida and Georgia have battled in court for years over the rights to water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system.

The fight has grown increasingly bitter in the wake of the ongoing drought, which left the lake level at an historic low of about 1,050 feet on Dec. 26, 2007.

The 1071 Coalition draws its name from the full pool level of Lake Lanier, 1,071 feet above sea level. The coalition wants to provide a comprehensive economic impact study to present to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Using information from the study, the group hopes to change the corps’ guidelines governing Lake Lanier. 1071 member and Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce President James McCoy said the study currently is under way.

"It takes a look at the economic impact of what happens when the lake falls below 1,060," McCoy said. "It is an important part of the argument to be made for why the lake needs to be managed differently."

The Lake Lanier Association’s goal is the same, but according to organization vice president Wilton Rooks, "1071 has a different set of tools than we do."

"It’s good to have two organizations going after the same goal," Rooks said. "That is to bring Lake Lanier back up to a full level."

The Lake Lanier Association has been around since 1966 and is the oldest volunteer group working to protect the lake.

Commissioner Brian Tam said time is crucial in the matter of protecting Lake Lanier.

"Now is the time to get all the information possible in front of those who make decisions, so that they have no choice but to recognize what it does when that lake falls to an unacceptable level," Tam said.