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What this agreement means for Lake Lanier and north Georgia's water supply
Lake Lanier

Gov. Brian Kemp finalized an agreement Monday afternoon that enables water service providers in Gainesville, Buford, Gwinnett, Cumming and Forsyth to draw from Lake Lanier's water supply through the year 2050. 

"Today, we're celebrating a landmark agreement between the various parties represented here to draw from a crucial asset for both our state and its future — Lake Lanier," Kemp said in a press release. "After decades of work and negotiation, we have reached a sound, carefully developed, and fair resolution to this long and slow battle of the so-called broader ‘Water Wars.’” 

Lake Lanier is the largest reservoir in North Georgia and serves over 1.5 million residents in Gwinnett, Forsyth and Hall, as well as other parts of northern metro Atlanta. 

All of Gainesville’s drinking water comes from Lake Lanier, said Linda MacGregor, director for the city’s department of water resources. 

“We are pleased to be crossing this milestone today,” she said, adding that Gainesville will pay about $330,000 per year for the water storage.  

The contract signed Monday is the finalization of an agreement signed in January last year, when the state announced a contract between Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for water storage in Lake Lanier to meet the region’s water supply needs, both in the near term and the long term. In April last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously for Georgia in rejecting Florida’s claim that Georgia uses too much of the water that flows from the Atlanta suburbs to the Gulf of Mexico.

The contract grants the state 254,170 acre feet of water storage, or 13% of the lake when full. The cost of storage is calculated at roughly $71 million, which will be spread over 30 years, in addition to annual operations and maintenance costs. 

The state has already made two payments toward these costs, allocating over $14 million in the state budget to secure this agreement. Once payments are complete, the state will have permanent rights to the water storage.