The Lake Lanier Association is urging the state Environmental Protection Division to “use all available tools to restore and keep Lake Lanier at its full pool level.”
“Due to the drought, Lake Lanier has not been at full pool since the spring of 2016 and continued to drop during the normal winter recharge season when the lake level normally increases, resulting in an elevation 10 feet below full pool,” according to a statement released Sunday by the Gainesville-based group.
Predictions had called for the lake level to drop another 5 feet over the summer.
“Fortunately, and due to increased rainfall south of metro Atlanta, the (Army) Corps of Engineers was able to curtail releases from Lake Lanier (that) have resulted in gradual increases in the lake through July,” the release states.
However, since July 20, “the lake has started dropping again and the forecast is for it to drop another 2-3 feet before increased rainfall during the anticipated winter recharge season begin to hopefully restore Lanier to full pool.
“But, like last year, the full effect of a normal winter recharge season might not happen.”
As of Sunday afternoon, Lake Lanier was at just above 1,065 feet above sea level, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The summer full pool is 1,071 feet.
The association “believes that hope is not a strategy,” the press release continues. “We urge all agencies to adopt a strategy of keeping Lake Lanier as full as possible at all times due to the critical dependency on the lake for metro Atlanta water supply and downstream water requirements.
“Coming out of a drought is not a smooth process. When water supplies are marginal, every effort should be made to sustain them through the period of uncertainty.”
One of the tools available to accomplish this strategy is drought restrictions adopted by EPD, the association says.
“While there are numerous factors that influence the designated drought level, the amount of water stored in Lake Lanier to meet the demands placed on it, should be a major contributor to that decision,” according to the release.
Reducing restrictions would signal “to all water users, including residential and commercial, that there is no more need to conserve water, while just the opposite is the case,” the association says.
“While the drought might be officially over, the impact of the drought is not. The association believes that decisions should be made that retain all available tools to conserve Lake Lanier levels for water supply purposes for all of metro Atlanta.”