Posts tagged "full pool"

Lt. Gov. Cagle urges higher lake levels

May 26th, 2012 Posted by Annual Meeting 0 comments on “Lt. Gov. Cagle urges higher lake levels”

Lee Johnson
May 25, 2012

While addressing the Lake Lanier Association on Thursday night, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle rallied for the protection of Lake Lanier and said higher lake levels have been, and can be, maintained.

“We realize the great recreational value it has for our state,” said Cagle. “It’s also a huge resource for the state of Georgia.”

Right now, the lake levels are around 1,065 feet above sea level. Full summer pool for the lake is 1,071 feet above sea level.

Cagle says the lake has been higher, using the 1996 Olympics as an example, and “where there is a will, there is a way” to keep those levels higher.

“I think it needs to be a fuller pool than (1,071) and the capacity is there to make that happen,” he said.

He urged the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which controls the water release at Buford Dam, to make the lake a “stronger priority.”

Lake Lanier, for more than two decades, has been at the center of a tristate debate for water use.

It is a part of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system and Alabama, Florida and Georgia continuously lock horns on how the water is to be used.

Georgia wants the system’s water for drinking water, economic growth and recreation. Alabama says the water is necessary for energy. Florida says the water is essential to support a seafood industry and wildlife in the Apalachicola River Basin.

Last June, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a 2009 ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, who ruled it was illegal for the Corps of Engineers to use water from the lake to provide metro Atlanta with usable water.

“That was a huge win,” said Cagle. “As a result it created a whole new landscape as it relates to water quantity.”

The June 2011 ruling from the federal appeals court also gave the corps one year to make a final determination on how to allocate Lanier’s water.

“It sent a very, very strong message to the Corps of Engineers that we need an updated water management plan and I think that’s critical for not only Lake Lanier, but the entire state,” said Cagle.

Cagle said the ruling gave the state the ability to better negotiate with Florida and Alabama, who have said they plan to appeal.

But the lieutenant governor says Lanier is not as big a player in the river system as most think.

“If not one ounce of water came over the dam at Buford it would only impact the flow at the Georgia-Florida line less than one foot,” Cagle said. “Most people don’t capture that, but that’s the reality of what we’re talking about.”

The locals seem to agree that Lanier’s water is best served in Georgia.

“Those mussels and sturgeon (in Florida) lived 7 million years before Lake Lanier,” said Frank Norton of Norton Realty.

“If all this fails I want Gov. (Nathan) Deal and Lt. Gov. Cagle to mount the Georgia militia and stand on top of the Buford Dam and yell at Alabama and Florida: ‘Come and get it.’”

He said the low water levels directly affect the property value surrounding Lanier, valued at more than a half-trillion dollars.

“When the water gets pulled out of Lake Lanier, the sales stop,” said Norton.

But for some lake residents it’s simpler than that.

Paul LeMay bought property on Lanier about five years ago.

He hoped he could share the lake with his children and grandchildren, but says the constant low levels pose a safety threat, when he can even get his boat off the dirt where his dock is.

LeMay actually plans on selling his lakeside property.

“My wife and I decided this isn’t a place where we wanted to live because it’s moved from a God situation with the drought, which we can understand, to all of sudden all of these politics flushed out, which we never realized,” said LeMay.

“I no longer encourage people to look for property on the lake.”

Earlier this week, the corps unveiled a new plan that will adjust procedures at Jim Woodruff Dam on Lake Seminole in South Georgia.

The new procedures would release the minimum amount of water, 5,000 cubic feet per second, out of Woodruff Dam in times of drought until reservoirs upstream, including Lanier, were nearly at full pool.

Only then would the corps release more water — 5,000 to 10,000 cfs, up from 5,000 to 8,000 cfs — out of Woodruff Dam.

Adding more reservoirs is something Cagle sees as necessary to maintain a supply of water.

“We are going to need to build reservoirs for the state,” he said. “I think we can do it in a responsible way and in a way that protects the environment.”

That includes the Glades Reservoir in Hall County.

“I am for the Glades Reservoir, as long as it does not hurt Lake Lanier,” said Cagle. “We have to have the supply and I think the two can be balanced together.”

But as talks continue between the three states and water levels on Lanier continue to stay below full pool, the lieutenant governor says the lake needs to remain a priority — whether it’s for safety, home value or water supply.

“It doesn’t matter how you look at the lake, as long as your interest is to protect the lake, then that’s a good thing,” said Cagle.

Commentary: The case for raising the Lake Lanier level two feet

May 15th, 2011 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Commentary: The case for raising the Lake Lanier level two feet”

By Wilton Rooks, Guest columnist for the Gainesville Times

Georgia’s citizens and virtually all government entities from the state house to the local city or county administration understand and accept the need to conserve Georgia’s water resources. Georgia’s economy – in fact, the entire Southeast economy – depends on a reliable supply of fresh water for water supply, recreation, business, industry and environmental protection.

Georgia has passed a far reaching Water Stewardship Act to impose restrictions and incentives to fix leaks, to use less water and to manage water more efficiently. Cities and counties, especially in the Metro Atlanta area have imposed even more stringent requirements.

But what happens to the millions of gallons of saved water used on a daily basis?

Unless we have more ways to store it, that water flows to the Gulf of Mexico, even during times when there is excess water beyond what is needed for downstream uses. The challenge is to have programs and resources in place to store the water that is conserved so that it can be beneficially used when rainfall does not provide enough water for the users of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin.

The fastest and cheapest way to store that water is in Lake Lanier, already the largest reservoir on the ACF watershed and currently with 14 feet of flood storage capacity. By raising the full pool level of Lake Lanier by only two feet and adjusting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operating procedures for the ACF Basin, more than 26 billion gallons of additional water can be stored during times of surplus to be used during times of drought.

The economics of this approach are overwhelming. It is literally the “low hanging fruit” to achieve increased water storage for Metro Atlanta and for all users in the ACF watershed — including those in Florida and Alabama. Without Lake Lanier’s water during the drought of 2007, all downstream users would have had to live with what nature provided, which was about half of the minimum required flow into Apalachicola River. With more water stored in Lake Lanier, everyone wins.

The need to reauthorize Lanier for water supply is a given – even at its current level. So that is not a factor associated with raising the lake by two feet. It is a factor associated with using any of the water from Lanier for water supply purposes. The path toward reauthorization is going to depend on the outcome of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on Judge Magnuson’s ruling and final agreements among the states.

Raising the lake by two feet can occur in a very short time period. During April 2009, the lake rose by 3 feet even though there was only 2.6 inches of rain during that month, considerably below average. There have been other months where it rose very little even with more rain.

The level of Lake Lanier is determined by the rainfall below Buford Dam as much as the amount of rainfall above Buford Dam. The amount and distribution of rainfall in the entire ACF Basin, along with hydropower generation and the Corps of Engineers need to balance the downstream reservoirs, determine how much water is released from Lanier. We have seen Lanier rise extremely fast when there is ample rain fall either above or below Lanier. This recommendation would be to store more water when it is available, not to deprive downstream users of water when it is not in ample supply.

Raising Lanier by 2 feet is not presented as the solution to Atlanta’s water future. It is one part of the ultimate solution to Atlanta’s water future. While doing so, it forestalls Lanier reaching the extreme low levels that it did in a drought similar to the 2006-2008 drought. Because of the “martini glass” shape of the lake basin, if Lanier had started 2 feet higher at the beginning of that drought, it would have been 3 feet higher when the drought ended.

As documented in the Economic Impact Study produced by the 1071 Coalition, the Lanier recreation economy degrades sharply whenever the Lake drops to 1060 or 1061 elevation. Any option to postpone that occurrence is a positive factor for the North Georgia economy. This idea should not be predicated on how many additional million gallons per day of water can be used for water supply purposes. Instead, it should be viewed as a way to extend the time when is Lanier above the 1060 or 1061 elevation for the economic health of our area.

Securing an agreement with our neighboring states has to be the top priority for the three governors. But that agreement alone does not create more stored water. It will deal with how that water is used. All parties to the agreement will benefit from having more stored water.

The cost and time factors of raising Lanier by 2 feet is miniscule compared to the costs of building new reservoirs. A properly done study will tell us what the costs will be. We all should be interested in a study to determine those costs. Lanier has been above 1073 over 300 times during its history-most recently in November 2009. It has been above 1077 on numerous occasions. Unlike the inevitable unknown surprises that crop up in building a new project, we have the benefit of some experience as to what happens around the lake at those higher levels.

This is not presented as an alternative to new reservoirs or any other viable ideas that will help secure the metro Atlanta’s water future. Each idea for addressing Atlanta’s water future has to stand on its own merits. This is an idea that has rallied county commissions, recreational users, businesses, environmental groups and many other stakeholders. It is a time that has come. Along with the necessary re-authorization of Lake Lanier for water supply purposes, this change would be a major part of the solution to the Metro Atlanta and the entire SE water supply needs.

The Corps needs to initiate the necessary study to better understand the costs and benefits of this change — now.

Wilton Rooks is vice president of the Lake Lanier Association.


Lake Lanier’s level is on mark with summer full pool

May 1st, 2011 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Lake Lanier’s level is on mark with summer full pool”

Lake Lanier has stayed around 1,071 feet above sea level

Jeff Gill, Gainesville Times

With levels up and summer just ahead, Lake Lanier is sitting pretty.

“I think lake levels this summer will be fine. We’re in good shape,” said state climatologist David Stooksbury, speaking in an interview last week about summer conditions.

The lake’s summer full pool elevation of 1,071 feet above sea level took effect Sunday, and Lanier has hovered around that mark since early February. The last time the lake dropped below 1,070 feet — the winter full pool — was Feb. 4.

“Lanier is big enough, even though it has a small watershed, that … it doesn’t start getting into trouble into we start having multiyear droughts,” Stooksbury said. “The fact that we’re in good shape right now bodes well for the summer.”

He doesn’t have a summer forecast for North Georgia at this point, but no one should fret even if conditions turn out to be “very dry.”

In that case, “We’d see Lanier drop but not to the (level) we saw in 2007,” Stooksbury said.

In a drought that lasted from 2007 to 2009, Lanier fell to all-time low of 1,050.79 feet in December 2007. The reservoir finally hit full pool in October 2009.

Earlier this year, the Hall County area fell back into mild drought, believed to be the result of a La Niña atmospheric pattern that produces drier than normal conditions. As that ended, spring rains, some quite heavy, proved to be a drought buster for Northeast Georgia.

Drought conditions persist, however, for Middle and South Georgia, and Stooksbury doesn’t expect that to let up.

“We are much more confident in saying that drought conditions will worsen (there) over the next couple of months,” he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ four-week lake level forecast for Lanier, normally posted on the corps’ website, wasn’t available Sunday evening.

Lisa Coghlan, spokeswoman for the corps’ Mobile District, which includes Lake Lanier, said her agency takes a basinwide approach to managing the lakes.

“When there are drier conditions throughout the (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River) basin, we try to hold back as much water as we possibly can at Lake Lanier,” Coghlan said.

The Lake Lanier Association has long advocated raising Lanier’s full pool level to 1,073 feet, creating a larger supply of water and providing a solution to the long water wars fight between Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

The group has stepped up efforts this year, earning endorsements from several area governments.

“Additionally, the Georgia General Assembly has recently appropriated $2 million for a study on the 1,073 concept,” said Joanna Cloud, the organization’s executive director.

“We are hopeful the (corps) will initiate that study to look at the engineering aspects of raising the lake as well as the impact on downstream users,” she added.

The group feels that raising the lake “will act as an insurance policy to downstream users, helping to ensure enough water is available during times of drought, while giving our region more of a buffer against extremely low lake levels which adversely impact boating safety and our local economy,” Cloud said.