For Jennifer Flowers, the new executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, water is “more than just a profession. It’s a passion.”
Flowers will officially start the job on Monday, taking the position vacated by Joanna Cloud, who served as director for about nine years. Flowers comes to the association from Gainesville Water Resources.
She is originally from Athens but moved to Hall County to work in water resources and has settled in.
“We just fell in love with it, and I love Gainesville and Hall County and everything it has to offer,” she said.
Being near the water was a draw for her, and she sees how the lake brings people to the area.
“Since I worked for Gainesville for the past eight years, my focus has been water and water quality. ... It’s what I love doing,” Flowers said. “This was such a great opportunity for all of my focus to be on protecting the lake and making sure that it’s clean, full and safe.”
That’s the association’s motto—“full lake, clean lake, safe lake.” Flowers hopes to continue that mission through initiatives like Shore Sweep cleanups and installing rip rap, or stones along the shoreline that help with erosion and keep sediment out of the water. She also hopes to continue the work Cloud was doing to remove abandoned, derelict boats and docks from the lake.
“Not only are they an eyesore, but they can leach different things in to the lake and the boats, as they sink, you don’t know what’s on them,” Flowers said.
She hopes to continue safety initiatives like educating people about the “100-foot rule,” or the rule that when boaters are within 100 feet of a stationary boat or water craft, a dock or someone in the water, the boat needs to be at idle speed or less. Other programs like installing solar lights on hazard markers can also keep people safe on the lake, she said.
Lake Lanier draws about 11.8 million visitors a year, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Flowers said the lake serves as not only a drinking water source, but a recreation destination.
“The lake really is a driver for this area. People are moving here because of the lake. It allows area businesses to thrive. You have anywhere from your boat dealers to your marinas, even just building communities off the lake in Gainesville,” she said. “It’s the whole live, work, play area. You have these great places to go play in our backyard on the weekend.”
But the high traffic can pose some environmental challenges, Flowers said.
“The amount of people that are using the lake — it’s not a bad thing, but it does lead to some issues,” she said. “It’s continued development around the lake, which is a good thing, in terms of the area economy, but it can lead to pressures on the lake itself, anywhere from the amount of available drinking water to runoff and water pollution issues.”
The Lake Lanier Association was formed in the 1960s and has grown to about 4,500 members, including lake residents, community members, businesses, boaters and fishermen.