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Commission backs raising lake level
Pichon: Resolution in support of neighbors
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Dawson is the latest county to sign a resolution in favor of raising the water level of Lake Lanier.


Forsyth, Gwinnett and Hall counties have approved similar measures to raise the lake’s level by 2 feet, to 1,073 feet above sea level.


“Basically what it says is that we recommend a study be done in support of raising [the lake] 2 feet for recreational purposes ... but also to support additional water supply,” said Mike Berg, commission chairman.


The Dawson County commission on Thursday unanimously approved the resolution, which will be sent to state lawmakers.


The Lake Lanier Association has been advocating for the increase since 2007, when the lake reached record lows due to the drought.


Increasing the lake’s full pool elevation by 2 feet would increase available water supply by more than 25 billion gallons, according to the resolution.


“This will bring an abundance of water to the area without spending lots and lots of money,” Commissioner Gary Pichon said.


According to the resolution, raising the water level is also a viable alternative to building costly reservoirs.


“The construction of additional reservoirs may create additional supply, but no feasible location in Georgia permits building a new reservoir with a volume equivalent to Lake Lanier,” the resolution reads.


While Dawson County does not have a permit to withdraw water from Lanier, Pichon said it is imperative to support the project for “our neighbors.”


“We don’t have a dog in this fight, but our prosperity, future and well-being is tied to our neighbors’ well-being,” he said.


Referring to the July 2009 court ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson that Lanier is not an authorized source for drinking water, Pichon said, “it is monumentally dumb and wrong to take away water from people who come to depend on it.”


Magnuson gave Georgia three years to resolve the situation with Alabama and Florida or face not being able to use Lanier as a water source.


“Our neighbors are at long-term water supply risk. This is a solution that would provide adequate water for a long time,” Pichon said.


Alyssa LaRenzie of the DCN regional staff contributed to this report.