Today's lake level: 1073.56
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Apr. 22, 2019
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Continued rains keep Lanier well above full pool

By Pamela A. Keene
 
Lake Lanier levels had temporary relief from higher than normal rainfall in mid-February, but Mother Nature came back with a vengeance at the end of the month and into March, bringing levels to historic highs exceeding 1076.
 
Marinas and private dock owners took steps to respond to the high lake levels. “We urged our members to cut off the power to their docks as a safety precaution,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association. “Many also moved their docks to prevent damage to anchoring systems.”
 
Companies like Marine Specialties Inc. received numerous calls to work with dock owners who reported docks partially submerged. “There was certainly a safety issue of getting on or to their docks,” said Kyle Davis, sales manager with MSI. “Many of the walkways and gangways have junction boxes and if electrical cords were submerged, it could create an electrical hazard.”
 
Davis said that if the breakers on the private docks tripped, the breakers were doing their job, but he urged dock owners to cut the power either at the shoreline or at their homes. He also said that the integrity of dock anchoring systems could be put at risk. 

“We saw a number of docks where the water was so deep that the shoreline stakes were submerged,” he said. “And in some cases, the docks were floating above the spud poles, setting docks free if they were not backed up with shoreline cables.” 
 
Davis said the biggest priority has been to secure anchoring systems so that docks will not break free. He said he also anticipates calls from dock owners to inspect anchoring systems as the water subsides. 
 
Cloud said that social media helped one homeowner locate a dock after it floated away. Several free-floating docks were reported to have crashed into other docks, boats or the shoreline. “Someone else on the lake posted on Facebook that a dock had ended up near their property,” Cloud said. “Thanks to the post, the owner was reunited with his dock.” 
 
Shoreline erosion and siltation from the ups and downs of water levels will most likely be an issue as the lake recedes.  “Many of the banks are completely submerged for the first time,” Davis said. “And with the ground so saturated, trees may fall into the lake, onto the shoreline or even onto docks.” 
Increased debris is expected in the lake, trash or limbs that have washed off the shore.
 
Marinas prepared 
A quick poll of Lake Lanier’s marinas showed that marina operators were prepared and responsive to the quickly rising water.
 
In several marinas walkways were submerged, limiting tenants’ access to their boats. “We set up shuttles to help people get to their boats,” said Rick Albrecht of Port Royale. 
 
Gainesville Marina cut power and closed its fuel dock and pump-out as the water levels rose. “We had to cut power to some of the smaller docks because of the high water, but we’ve been trying to help tenants who lost power by relocating them within the marina,” said Gainesville Marina’s Philip Burton. “we don’t anticipate reopening the fuel dock and pump-out until the levels get below 1075.”

Historic data
According to lake elevation data provided by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the last time the lake neared this levels was in 1977, when on April 5, the level was reported at 1076.20. At the end of February, water levels exceeded 1076 feet above mean sea level, more than five feet above full pool.
 
“It will be hard to gauge exactly when the lake will return to full pool because there are so many variables,” said Chris Lovelady, assistant project operations manager at Lake Lanier. “The amount of rainfall in the watershed to the rainfall downstream will both affect lake levels, but we are closely monitoring the situation.”

Posted online 3/29/19
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