Board backs plan to lift lake level, joins Lanier group, Gwinnett in endorsment

March 23rd, 2011 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Board backs plan to lift lake level, joins Lanier group, Gwinnett in endorsment”

by Alyssa LaRenzie, Forsyth News

Forsyth County has joined others in a push 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,” Jarrard 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 feet addition.

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.”

Fellow 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.

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