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Oct. 17, 2019
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Down River Task Force offers river safety tips

By Pamela A. Keene 
 
Interagency cooperation and communication help raise awareness for water safety, both on Lake Lanier and below the dam on the Chattahoochee River. Two task forces – The Water Safety Task Force and the Down River Task Force – meet regularly to prepare for holiday weekends and other events. 
 
The week before Labor Day, the Down River Task Force held a press conference to draw attention to the Chattahoochee River, especially during water releases from Buford Dam. 
 
“The flow of the river changes rapidly during a release,” said Nick Baggett, Corps of Engineers natural resource manager. “If you hear the (water release warning) horn, you need to get out of the water as soon as possible.” 
 
Here are the recommended safety tips: 
 
  • For a Buford Dam water release schedule, call 770-945-1466 or 1-855-DAM-FLOW (1-855-326-3569).
  • Life jackets must be worn by anyone on the river between Buford Dam and the GA Hwy. 20 bridge.
  • During a release, the Chattahoochee River can rise as much as 11 feet in minutes. Keep an eye on the water level. Note the water level on a solid fixture, such as a bridge support, and check it periodically. If the water level has risen, it’s time to get out.
  • Always make sure someone knows where you are and if swimming in the river, use a buddy system. Use the mile markers along the river so you know exactly where you are.
     
Spearheaded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the task force is composed of representatives from the National Park Service Georgia Department of Natural Resources, law enforcement and fire services management from each of the counties and municipalities adjacent to the shoreline and river, including Hall, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Cobb, plus Johns Creek, Roswell and Sandy Springs. 
 
Generally the Corps releases water from Buford Dam on weekday afternoons, but in the case of heavy rains or downstream water demands, releases can take place in the mornings or on weekends. 

Posted online 9.27.19
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