By Melissa Stiers for Georgia Public Broadcasting
ATLANTA — The state senate passed a budget Wednesday that includes two million dollars to study raising the water level of Lake Lanier.
Republican Senator Butch Miller is from Gainesville where Lake Lanier sits. He says raising the pool two feet would help the region’s water needs.
“That would give an additional 26 billion gallons of water and no other state would have a claim on that 26 billion gallons,” says Miller.
Florida and Alabama have taken Georgia to court to get more water sent down stream from Lake Lanier. The states have until 2012 to reach a water-sharing agreement, or millions in metro-Atlanta could lose their drinking water source.
Environmentalist Neill Herring who lobbied for the budget item says it could go a long way in resolving the dispute.
“There would be enough water impounded in Lake Lanier to take care of foreseeable downstream needs so the whole subject of the interstate water dispute could be alleviated. It’s not going to solve the whole thing but it could be a huge tool in remedying that problem,” says Herring.
Senator Miller says allocating the funds shows Georgia’s commitment to the idea so Congress can formally ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study it.