Posts in Full Lake

ALERT – Quickly Rising Water Levels – February 22, 2019

February 22nd, 2019 Posted by Clean Lake, Full Lake, Safe Lake 0 comments on “ALERT – Quickly Rising Water Levels – February 22, 2019”
This morning, the Chattachoochee and Chestatee Rivers are flowing at a combined 8,440 cubic feet per second, and the discharge at Buford Dam is 583 cfs, for a net inflow into Lake Lanier of 7,857 cfs, not counting rain falling onto the surface of the lake, inflow from minor tributaries, and direct inflow from the shoreline.
The lake has risen more than 3 feet since last Friday, and more than 1.5 feet since yesterday morning.
With perhaps another 0.75″ of rain forecast for today and Saturday, and with the ground already fully saturated, the lake will continue to rise significantly, and could easily rise another 6-12″ over the weekend.
Check your dock poles and shore anchor lines to make sure your dock doesn’t break free from its moorings.

Water Wars Update – February 2019

February 2nd, 2019 Posted by Full Lake 0 comments on “Water Wars Update – February 2019”
By: Clyde Morris, Legal Counsel to Lake Lanier Association
Both States filed their supplemental briefs January 31 with Special Master Paul J. Kelly, Jr., and the arguments are entirely predictable. Florida says Georgia’s overuse of water is destroying Apalachicola oyster fisheries. Georgia says its use of water is reasonable and the damage to Georgia so enormously outweighs any benefit to Florida that Florida’s proposed consumption cap would not be equitable.
In order to provide members as quickly as possible with information about the filings, we are providing short, succinct excerpts from each state’s brief that summarize the positions. We think they accurately encapsulate each state’s argument without delving into the details.
As Georgia has drastically increased its consumption of upstream waters, especially along the Flint River for agricultural purposes, the amount of water flowing into the Apalachicola has shrunk dramatically. This has had the predictable effect: the Apalachicola has suffered and its oyster fisheries, in particular, have collapsed. The question now is whether Georgia’s wasteful practices should be allowed to continue-and worsen-while the Apalachicola, its natural resources, and the communities that depend on them are decimated.
After a five week trial, Special Master Lancaster had no difficulty concluding that Georgia’s “upstream water use” has been and continues to be “unreasonable,” and that the Apalachicola Region has sustained “real harm” as a result of the decreased flow of water into Florida. Underscoring the inequitable nature of Georgia’s conduct, he also found that “Georgia’s position – practically, politically, and legally-can be summarized as follows: Georgia’s agricultural water use should be subject to no limitations, regardless of the long-term consequences for the Basin.”
Nevertheless, on the novel question of whether the Army Corps of Engineers’
(Corps’) absence from this case prevents the Court from righting this wrong, Special Master Lancaster ultimately concluded that the Court was powerless to enter a decree because there was “no guarantee” that the Corps would not offset its effects. … On that single issue, the Supreme Court concluded, he was mistaken. The Court clarified that “‘[u]ncertainties about the future’ do not ‘provide a basis for declining to fashion a decree.'” Instead, given the importance of “protect[ing] the equitable rights of a State,” the equitable apportionment inquiry must rely on “[a]pproximation and reasonable estimates” to determine what relief is appropriate. Thus, Florida is entitled to relief if, under “reasonable predictions of future conditions, … the benefits of a decree would substantially outweigh its costs.
The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that this balance favors Florida. On the benefits side, a decree capping Georgia’s consumption would significantly increase the flow of water into the Apalachicola and restore the conditions in which the region survived and thrived for centuries. And on the costs side, much of this reduction in consumption could be accomplished simply by halting wasteful irrigation practices and sensibly limiting future irrigation in ways Georgia officials have themselves proposed and other States (including Florida) have long implemented.
In remanding this case, a divided Supreme Court was unanimous in one key respect: Florida cannot prevail unless it “prove[s] by clear and convincing evidence that the benefits of an equitable apportionment decree substantially outweigh any harm that might result.” Florida has not met that heavy burden. The potential benefits to Florida from its proposed cap are small and speculative, while the harms to established economies in Georgia are certain and severe.
The record is clear that Florida’s proposed cap would impose enormous costs on Georgia while yielding at most de minimis benefits to Florida. Florida’s own expert estimated that a cap would cost Georgia more than $100 million each year it was implemented…. In truth, the per-implementation costs would range from $335 million to well over a billion dollars, not including the one-time costs that Florida seeks to inflict on Georgia. Those costs dwarf the entire value of, and outweigh any potential benefits to, the Apalachicola Bay oyster industry-the only industry for which Florida offered evidence of specific harm. Even before its 2012 collapse, the oyster industry produced annual revenues of only $5-8 million. And even a draconian cap on Georgia would increase oyster biomass in the Bay by only 1.4% and generate (at most) another $40,000 per year.
Georgia accounts for 92% of the population, 99% of the economic production, and 96% of the employment in the ACF Basin. And Georgia uses ACF waters to support a population of more than 5 million and an economy that generates around $283 billion in Georgia’s Gross Regional Product (“GRP”) each year. Yet Georgia … uses only 2.4% of the water crossing the state line during non-drought years … and 6.1% during dry years. At all times, the vast majority of available water in the ACF Basin flows into Florida.
And even if Flint River flows did increase to some small extent, that extra water would not flow across the state line at the times and in the amounts necessary to redress Florida’s alleged injuries. *** Even if severe cutbacks were imposed on Georgia, the Corps has confirmed that it would not materially increase its releases from Woodruff Dam into Florida during drought operations or extreme low flows, but would instead use that water to refill its upstream reservoirs. *** (G)iven the Corps’ operations and the relatively small amount of water that might be generated by a cap on Georgia, flows across the state line would be roughly the same with or without a cap during the drought conditions that are the exclusive focus of Florida’s case.
Florida has not proven, by clear and convincing evidence or otherwise, that the potential benefits of its requested cap substantially outweigh the resulting harms. The evidence shows just the opposite: “If we contrast the de minimisbenefits that Florida might receive from small amounts of additional water during nondroughts with the massive harms that Georgia would suffer if this Court cut its water use in half during droughts, it is clear who should prevail in this case.”

ALERT – quickly rising lake levels

December 28th, 2018 Posted by Full Lake, Safe Lake 0 comments on “ALERT – quickly rising lake levels”

Courtesy alert to Lake Lanier Association members: with the high rainfall around Lake Lanier and especially in the watershed above the lake, dock owners should make sure their docks, including anchor poles, can handle the expected surge in the lake level. Current inflows into the lake are running at a rate of about 12 times higher than the outflows from Buford Dam. The lake has already risen over a foot today. With inflows of over 20,000 cubic feet per second we can expect even higher levels.

Lake Lanier Association Supports Concept of Forsyth Water Treatment Facility

December 19th, 2018 Posted by Clean Lake, Full Lake 0 comments on “Lake Lanier Association Supports Concept of Forsyth Water Treatment Facility”

In response to the announcement that Forsyth County is planning to site a new water treatment facility in North Forsyth County, the Lake Lanier Association has been responding individually to citizens that express concerns about the facility. In an effort to create more education and awareness about the association’s stance on the proposed treatment facility, LLA has released this statement to local media:


“We have been aware, for several years now, of the proposed plant in North Forsyth and are watching it to see what develops in the Environmental Protection Division permitting process. From a Lake Lanier Association perspective, we will weigh in on the water quality in the lake aspect of this issue, not the property value, placement, or property rights off the lake aspect” said Joanna Cloud, Executive Director for the association.

Lake Lanier Association is very supportive of municipalities around the lake increasing their water returns to the lake. Cloud says “Many people consider the treated water coming back into the lake as treated to such a high standard that it is actually cleaner than the water being pulled out at the intake facilities for drinking water. We have water returns above Buford Dam of only about 50% for water pulled out of Lake Lanier. We can do better. Metro Atlanta has returns approaching 80% for water pulled out of the Chattahoochee. If we want to keep Lake Lanier at higher lake levels, especially during peak summer season, recycling water and increasing our returns is part of that solution.”

The association says it will be monitoring the TMDL permit levels for the treated water as well as the discharge pipe length and depth when the plant is in the state permitting process. Cloud says, especially in areas of North Forsyth with significant agriculture and livestock, along with a higher concentration of aging septic systems, that the concern for bacteria in a Lake Lanier tributary after a significant rainfall event would likely decrease with the addition of a treated water discharge facility due to the treated water diluting the bacteria coming in due to run off. The physical location of the discharge pipe will also be of significant interest to the association in that there are already discharge permits issued in several other locations around the lake and the association is concerned about overburdening the ecosystem of any particular tributary. “Even if we can get comfortable with TMDL standards of multiple discharge permits in a single area, doubling the concerns about things like incoming water temperature or air content in the discharge make having multiple permits in single tributary challenging” says Cloud. There is already one industrial water discharge permit in the Six Mile tributary of Lake Lanier in the North Forsyth area.

The association also says it is in favor of sewer facilities over septic facilities because with sewer, especially municipality systems as opposed to private systems, there are more controls in place to prevent issues and more resources for mitigation if a problem does occur than with private septic systems surrounding the lake


December 11th, 2018 Posted by Full Lake 0 comments on “HO HO HO – THERE’S HOLIDAY CHEER IN THE WATER WARS!”
Clyde Morris, Legal Counsel to the Lake Lanier Association, wrote the following summary of the most recent happenings with the U.S. Supreme Court for the benefit of Lake Lanier Association members. Thank you Clyde!
Admittedly, a case management order from a federal court judge is an unlikely source for holiday cheer. But sometimes you find happiness in places you didn’t expect.
Such is the case in the long-standing bout between Florida and Georgia over the waters of the ACF. LLA members will recall that the case is now in the hands of a new Special Master, Paul J. Kelly, Jr. of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Senior Circuit Judge of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Kelly issued an order on November 6 dealing with how the case will proceed. He quickly made it clear that he does not intend to expand the proceedings or drag this case out any more than is necessary. Even more promising is that he does not want to contribute to the states’ financial burdens, either.
The parties had submitted a joint memorandum on the issues of additional evidence, discovery, stipulations, hearings, and possible settlement. After reviewing it, Judge Kelly ruled that the existing record is sufficient to resolve the case, no additional discovery is needed, and only an additional non-evidentiary hearing may be beneficial.
In his words, “Given the voluminous record in the case resulting from virtually unlimited discovery and a lengthy trial, additional discovery will only lengthen the proceedings, delay the outcome, and increase litigation costs. There is ample evidence in the record pertaining to Georgia’s water use in the ACF basin, and Florida has not explained why a material change since 2016 appears likely. As for the effect of the revised manual, both the prior Special Master and the United States indicated that the revised manual was unlikely to change relevant flow conditions.”
Judge Kelly went on to say, “Finally, a major focus of the prior trial was the 2012 oyster fishery collapse and its causes; though Florida says that there is more information from 2016-2018 that might justify increased streamflow, there is ample lay and expert evidence in the record about these issues. The Special Master is not persuaded that more evidence pertaining to this harm is merited because the likely additional value of such evidence is outweighed by the significant cost and delay that will accompany producing and presenting it.”
While all of this is cause for cheer among those of us anxiously awaiting an end to the case, there is even more to be found in Judge Kelly’s reminder that, “Ultimately, Florida must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the benefits of an equitable apportionment decree substantially outweigh any harm that might result.”
Floridians may perceive Judge Kelly as more like Ebenezer Scrooge than Santa Claus as a result of this order. But bringing the case to the soonest possible close – and focusing on the extremely high standard of proof Florida must meet – certainly gives Georgians reason to be cheerful this holiday season.

Water Wars: The Supreme Court Dodges A Decision

June 28th, 2018 Posted by Full Lake 0 comments on “Water Wars: The Supreme Court Dodges A Decision”

The Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling on the Florida v. Georgia lawsuit wherein Florida sought an equitable apportionment of the waters in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. Florida claimed that Georgia’s excessive use of water harmed the Apalachicola Bay environmental and fishing industries with a primary emphasis on the oyster industry in the bay.

Today, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the Special Master with clear instructions to establish more detailed information as to the nature – and amounts – of any harm claimed by Florida.

Equitable apportionment legal precedents require establishing not only the general nature of harm but a balancing of the harm to one state to achieve a benefit to another. The dissent clearly shows the actual harm that would occur to Georgia compared to the potential benefit to Florida of a cap on Georgia’s water consumption.

The Lake Lanier Association believes that the dissent written by Justice Clarence Thomas presents persuasive facts that were ignored by the majority opinion.

Lake Lanier is the water resource that benefits the entire state of Georgia and all downstream water users, including Florida. Having a sustainable Lake Lanier for the future is critical for all water users.

We look forward to continuing to make the case for the recreation economy, not only for the counties surrounding Lake Lanier but also for the state of Georgia, and to working with stakeholders in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama to promote the Sustainable Water Management Plan (SWMP) developed by the ACF Stakeholders organization.

For a more detailed write up of today’s Supreme Court ruling, see our synopsis at:

Lake Lanier Association requests deviation of the WCM

June 1st, 2018 Posted by Full Lake 0 comments on “Lake Lanier Association requests deviation of the WCM”

The Lake Lanier Association has issued a request of U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Brigadier General Diana Holland to authorize a deviation of the Water Control Manual for Buford Dam and Lake Sidney Lanier regarding water releases for the next several weeks. Details of the request are contained in the attached letter to General Holland.


Lake level forecast for March 2018 projecting a two foot drop

February 21st, 2018 Posted by Full Lake 0 comments on “Lake level forecast for March 2018 projecting a two foot drop”

The lake has risen significantly over the past several weeks with rainfall in the right places for increasing inflows into Lake Lanier. In light of that, we have had a few members express surprise about the current lake level forecast for the next month. We thought we would post some information related to that issue.

Normal Corps ACF operations call for an increase in downstream discharges beginning on March 1, given current conditions in the ACF. That and expectations for the Southeast U.S. to return to drier-than-normal conditions are what combine in the Corps’ forecast for Lanier to drop by about two feet in the next month. Here’s the scoop:

Lake Lanier rose three feet in a week from 2/8-2/15, and is now 3.4 feet higher than it was a mere two weeks ago. We caught a big break last week with heavy rain in the upper ACF basin, especially in the headwater areas of the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers. The Hooch peaked at over 6,000 cfs near Cornelia on the 11th and 12th, and the Chestatee peaked at over 5,000 near Dahlonega. Lanier’s inflows from the two rivers are currently running a little over 1,600 cfs, slightly above the 59-year mean for this day of the year.

Seven-day average ACF basin inflows are currently at 30,000 cfs and were over 40,000 from 2/11 through 2/18. ACF Conservation Storage is currently above the guide curve, meaning that cumulative reservoir levels are slightly above full winter pool. In particular, Lake Lanier is more than six inches above its full winter pool of 1070 MSL. The Corps’ ACF Water Control Manual calls for releases of any basin inflow above 5,000 cfs through the end of February. On March 1, basin inflows available for storage (i.e., water that can be kept in the reservoirs) will drop from everything over 5,000 cfs to 50% of inflows over 16,000. So, in order to accommodate threatened and endangered species such as the Gulf sturgeon, whose spawning period begins around April 1, spring flows will increase across the GA/FL starting next week.

The bottom line, as always, is that it takes normal spring rains throughout the basin to keep ACF lakes full into the coming recreation season.

Clyde Morris

Lake Lanier Association

Join us for our Volunteer Fair on Saturday, March 3rd 9am-12pm!

February 17th, 2018 Posted by Clean Lake, Full Lake, Membership, Safe Lake 0 comments on “Join us for our Volunteer Fair on Saturday, March 3rd 9am-12pm!”

LLA Volunteer Social Media post1

Lake Lanier Association revisits raising water levels

January 19th, 2018 Posted by Full Lake 0 comments on “Lake Lanier Association revisits raising water levels”


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