Today's lake level: 1073.56
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Apr. 22, 2019
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Heavy rains bring rising lake levels

By Pamela A. Keene
 
Excess rainfall in late December and early January caused road closures and quick actions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hall County and marina operators. The days leading up to the peak level on January 5 at 1074.71 (full pool is 1071), saw temporary park and boat-ramp closures, road closures and traffic detours and adjustments to docks and marina assets.
 
January’s water levels were nearly nine feet higher than the same date in 2018, which was recorded as 1065.92 and nearly 14 feet higher than on January 5, 2017, when they registered 1060.62 at Buford Dam.
 
“The Corps enacted our high-water action plan during that time, closing parks and portions of parks,” said Chris Lovelady, assistant project operations manager. “The water was so high that we had to close several ramps that were completely underwater. For others, like Sardis Creek, we kept a close eye.” 
 
Officials in Hall County also announced road closures due to high water. Bulletins from Hall County Government announced that Jim Hood Road near West Fork Little River was closed because of flooding. Conner Drive was also closed. “Water over the roads created a hazardous condition for motorists,” said Hall County Engineer Kevin McInturff in the bulletin. 
 
Many of the lake’s marinas responded to the higher-than-normal lake levels. 
 
At Aqualand, management made adjustments. “We had to shut down the power at the fuel dock,” said Patrick Kenney, general manager. “Planks for access were put on three docks when the water came up, but overall, we were prepared.”
 
Kenney explained that several high-water events over the past two years prompted the marina to make various adjustments, including moving power sources to docks to higher positions. “Most of our land-based power sources are now considerably above lake level,” he said. “However, this increased rainfall and higher lake levels seem to be happening more frequently. One foot over full pool is OK, but much more than that we need to keep an eye on.” 
 
He said that in addition to electric concerns, the higher levels affect sidewalks and access to fixed piers. “And when the water levels come up, we see increased erosion of the shoreline,” Kenney said. “We are considering adding more rip-rap to help minimize future erosion from periodic increased water levels and the summer wave action that affects the shoreline.” 
 
Hideaway Bay was not affected by the higher levels. “Our docks are on spud poles, so we don’t have cables to adjust,” said Michael Duling, manager of Hideaway Bay. “Our docks rise and fall with the lake levels, so it’s not an issue for us.” 
 
The Lake Lanier Association issued a bulletin to its members about the increased lake levels. “Dock owners should make sure their docks, including anchor poles, can handle the expected surge in the lake level,” the bulletin read. “Current inflows into the lake (as of December 28) are running at a rate of about 12 times higher than the outflows at Buford Dam.”
 
Executive Director Joanna Cloud said that safety is a primary concern of the association for its members and for property around the lake. “People always need to be concerned about their dock electrical systems,” she said. “Cut power to your docks either at your dock or from your house when the water is high like it was in January,” she said. “In addition to the rapid rise of the water several weeks ago, the amount of debris that has washed into the lake has increased. The water came up very quickly.” 
 
By January 18, lake levels of just more than 1072 were reported. “By the time it stopped raining, we were able to bring the lake down pretty quickly,” Lovelady said.
 
For historical information about lake levels, visit http://water.sam.usace.army.mil

Posted online 2/1/19
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