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Corps will keep lake from getting too high

POSTED: October 21, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Lake Lanier is up, but don’t expect it to get too much higher.

  

The reservoir reached, and exceeded, its summer full pool level of 1,071 feet above sea level last week.

  

On Thursday afternoon, the lake was over its full elevation capacity at 1,071.23 feet, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

  

The National Weather Service forecast predicts that most of the rain has passed, for now. About a tenth of an inch of rain was recorded Thursday afternoon at the National Weather Service station at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.

  

But if further rains raise the lake’s levels much higher, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct what corps Deputy Public Information Officer Lisa Coghlan calls “measured releases” to prevent downstream flooding and damage to corps facilities on the lake.

  

Above 1,071 feet, the lake has 15 feet of possible flood storage capacity, Coghlan said.

  

“It’s like a fish bowl that’s three-quarters of the way filled, and it’s that other fourth that’s still not filled,” Coghlan said.

  

But if the lake rises to elevations of 1,073 or 1,074 feet above sea level, corps officials will begin measured releases of the water through the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system.

  

“Once you start reaching those elevations, you start causing impacts to boat ramps as well as other corps facilities around that lake,” Coghlan said.

  

The lake’s all-time high level was 1,077.20 feet recorded in April 1964.

  

On Dec. 1, the corps will draw the lake down to 1,070 feet above sea level, the lake’s winter pool level.

  

“We’re going to keep it at minimum releases at this time,” Coghlan said. “... The corps is continuing to monitor both the short and long-term forecast and inflows to both the lake and the river to keep the releases to an absolute minimum.”

  

It would take about one or two weeks for the water to make it all the way through the system’s five reservoirs without causing flooding, Coghlan said. 

 

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