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.
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
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: https://lakelanier.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Water-Wars-The-Supreme-Court-Dodges-A-Decision-June-27-2018.pdf
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.
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.
Lake Lanier Association