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Forsyth County supports higher level for Lanier
Commissioners approve resolution that would raise lake's elevation by 2 feet
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Forsyth County has joined the effort for a higher Lake Lanier.

Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday in support of raising the lake's elevation by 2 feet to 1,073 feet above sea level.

The county followed a push by the Lake Lanier Association advocacy group and Gwinnett County commissioners, who approved a similar resolution last week.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the reasoning behind the pool increase is simple.

"Reservoirs are expensive. We have a big reservoir ... over there on the shoreline," he said. "If you increase it by 2 feet, you have 25 billion gallons of additional water."

The five-member commission unanimously voted in favor of sending the resolution onto state leaders and local congressmen, urging them to authorize the 2 foot increase.

The Lake Lanier Association first pitched the plan in 2007, during the midst of a record drought.

Commissioner Jim Boff said the lake elevation has been higher than 1,073 feet since then and everyone "made it through somehow."

"I would think that as an actual number to shoot for as the full pool level," Boff said. "It's hard to understand why this is not a good idea."

Commissioner Patrick Bell said it's almost "too simple," and Chairman Brian Tam said it "makes too much sense."

One complication to raising the elevation is a July 2009 court ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson that Lake Lanier is not an authorized source of drinking water.

He gave Georgia three years to resolve the situation with its neighbors Alabama and Florida or face not being able to use Lanier as a water source.

Commissioner Pete Amos also noted another issue with raising elevation - it could flood certain properties near the shoreline.

"There are properties the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) would have to buy to go up to 1,073," Amos said, "so it does cost money."

He agreed with Commissioner Todd Levent, though, that the cost would be far less than constructing a reservoir.

"This is a better solution," Levent said.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners doesn't have such a resolution on the table.

But Tom Oliver, chairman of theboard, said he supports "anything that would give more water" to Hall County.

"We need more details on how (raising the level) would affect (certain areas)," particularly bridges crossing Lanier, he said.

"We also seem to be in a very envious situation whereby we are preparing for our water needs with our Glades Farm and Cedar Creek," Oliver said, referring to area reservoir plans. "But it's going to take all the water we can get in order to have our future."

Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner said she would personally support a higher lake level resolution.

"I think we all agree on the (City Council) that one thing that makes a lot of sense is to raise the level," she said. "Of course, the corps won't do that unless the lake is reauthorized for drinking water use."