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Starboard Cove relocating slips
Starboard Cove Marina has begun grading work to lower the depth of the cove in Flowery Branch. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

FLOWERY BRANCH — From the top of Flowery Branch City Park off Mitchell Street, visitors may have seen the heavy equipment moving in the distance at Starboard Cove Marina.

The marina is dredging to a depth "where we would have been unaffected by this year’s drought," said Don Morgan, president of Starboard Cove Inc., which operates the marina.

"Who knows what the heck the future holds, but we would have operated normally right through all the droughts that have happened since of the birth of the lake," he said of the new depth.

Much of the Southeast has been steeped in dry conditions for the past couple of years, forcing conservation measures and affecting area economies.

Atlanta’s primary source of drinking water, Lake Lanier, has suffered with ever-dropping water levels.

Sunday evening, the lake sat at 1,056.71 feet above sea level, or nearly 14 feet below its normal full pool, helped out largely by a wetter-than-normal January. The lake’s all-time low level is 1,050.79, recorded on Dec. 26, 2007.

Some marinas on Lake Lanier have had to move their slips farther into the water. Starboard Cove Marina had to remove boats from the water and store them on dry land.

Starboard had to secure permits for its latest operation.

The Army Corp of Engineers, which operates Lake Lanier, "has been very strict with us, but they’ve been fair and helpful," Morgan said.

Corps officials couldn’t be reached for additional information.

The Starboard work could be completed by late March, Morgan said.

Holiday Marina at 6900 Holiday Road, also in South Hall, spent nearly $1 million last year on a similar operation, said Alex Laidlaw, area vice president for Westrec Marinas, which also runs Sunrise Marina.

"We’ve done significant dredging under our (permit) with the corps last year," he said.

"We (dug in) the areas underneath where the docks are and beside where the docks are, put them up on the shore and then we put fabric and riprap on top of that."

Laidlaw added, "The whole front entrance of the marina has been done."

Some more work is planned "dressing up some of the areas that we’ve already dredged," he said.

"I don’t think we’re going to do much this year, with the lake almost 5 feet above where it was last year, and it looks like we’re in a wetter pattern," Laidlaw said.

Some work also occurred at Sunrise, which is at 5725 Flat Creek Road in West Hall, "but not nearly as much as what we did here at Holiday," he added.