Posts tagged "Glades Reservoir"

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.

Glades Reservoir EIS Scoping Comments Posted

May 10th, 2012 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Glades Reservoir EIS Scoping Comments Posted”

The comments received during the Glades Reservoir EIS scoping period are now posted to the project website. Please visit to view the scoping comments.

Please check the project website for updates and information

Projects to manage water left in limbo

April 3rd, 2011 Posted by Water Quantity 0 comments on “Projects to manage water left in limbo”

Local governments wait to hear judges’ decision

Carolyn Crist, Gainesville Times

Public utilities workers for Gainesville and Hall County are finding it hard to plan these days.

With a looming deadline to reauthorize Lake Lanier for drinking water, officials are trying to sort out how much water withdrawal will be allowed, how to adjust for population growth and how water restrictions will be calculated.

“Ultimately, we have to wait and see what the judges will say in about two months and keep doing what we’re doing,” said Pat Stevens, chief environmental planning officer for the Atlanta Regional Commission. “We have to use efficiency, focus on conservation and watch the timing with the recession.”

Last month, judges from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard testimony about the tri-state water war.

Georgia officials asked the court to overturn a July 2009 ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson that gave the state three years to work out an agreement with neighbors Alabama and Florida or face not being able to withdraw water from Lake Lanier. The judges have not yet made a ruling.

Both Gainesville Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall and Hall County Public Utilities Director Ken Rearden agree the governments need to move forward with plans to bring Cedar Creek and Glades reservoirs online as water resources, but they still have questions about when and how to do it.

For example, if Magnuson’s ruling stands, Hall County officials who are planning Glades Reservoir would be required to build pipelines around Lake Lanier to move the water.

“We need the permit, which is good for a 10-year period, but we don’t have to go out and build the $346 million project tomorrow,” Rearden said during a recent panel discussion on the water war. “Hopefully we won’t have to build that much because more than half of the pipelines would have to pipe around the lake. If it touches the lake, the water would be considered Lake Lanier water.”

The biggest complication comes from guessing where water use levels will be set, Randall said.

“When we initially got 8 million gallons of water per day, we thought that was enough to last forever,” he said. “And later we gained an additional 12 million gallons. We kept growing and had even more customers.”

In 1990, the city used 11 million gallons per day, which grew to 17.9 million in 2000 and hit a peak at 19.7 million in 2006. Through conservation measures, today’s use is back at 17.6 million.

Magnuson’s ruling suggests water use may be forced back to 1970s levels. For Gainesville, that could mean about 20 million gallons per day, when accounting for a credit Gainesville’s utilities department received for clean wastewater it returned to the lake.

In addition, a 2003 negotiation contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set Gainesville’s level at 18 million.

“Recently, it’s the Army’s viewpoint that the amendment is still valid,” Randall said. “Then others seem to think we would go back to usage in 2006, which was 19.7, so you see the questions we’re dealing with here.”

That’s the largest hiccup when it comes to budgeting.

“Right now, it’s anybody’s guess what might happen with Judge Magnuson’s ruling, and depending on the curve, we could have between 8 million gallons and 35 (million) gallons per day, which we may need now, by 2015 or 2025,” he said. “Based on growth, my finance folks and engineers are saying different things. So what is it? I don’t know.”

As Rearden and Randall do their part to plan in the short term, others are looking at water use for the next generation.

“We need to plan this for a full 30-50 years out and fix what we can by controlling our destiny here in Hall County with Cedar Creek and Glades,” said Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and chairwoman of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. “We always think about the court case, but we have no control over that.”

With a projected population increase, it’s better to plan for steady growth and an increase in water use in the next few years, Dunlap said.

“I don’t think that will change,” she said. “It’s better to plan for the future than get into a crisis again if we’re short on water or have a drastic drought or something else changes with the court cases.”

Residents should be a part of the planning by joining local water advocacy groups, such as the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Stakeholders, Stevens added.

“The stakeholders are a group of Lake Lanier folks who came together to talk about solutions to see if the people can look at the problem and come up with ideas,” Stevens said.

“There’s never one right answer, so more than anything it’s a vehicle for communication. We get to know the people in the basin and find out what their issues are as well.”