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Dec. 12, 2018
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Lake Lanier Association members hear good news at annual meeting

By Pamela A. Keene
 
A little threat of rain didn’t dampen spirits at the Lake Lanier Association’s annual meeting on March 24 at Port Royale. Hundreds  attended the event that featured “A Taste of the Lake” preview of lake restaurants, a positive report from the association and information about the ACF Stakeholders, a group that’s been at work for nearly 10 years to build consensus along the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.
 
Association President Wilton Rooks highlighted accomplishments by the group over the past 12 months. The adopt-a-lake committee monitors 24 locations around Lanier each month to test for water quality. The association has installed 284 solar lights on hazard markers; it has installed rip-rap on four islands to help reduce erosion. And the 2017 Shore Sweep, with more than 1,000 volunteers, netted 54 tons of trash and debris from the lake and shoreline. He said that the group’s income has increased by 34 percent.
 
“A major message from the association is that Georgia is fueled by water and a major part of the that water comes from Lake Lanier. Lanier is not hydrologically connected the entire state, but it is economically connected. Is there a future water problem? We think it’s time to find out.” 
 
Rooks outlined the group’s opportunities for action. They include continuing to reduce per capita consumption, increase water efficiency among businesses, including agriculture, re-think the use of water for hydropower, analyze the costs of inter-basin transfers and increase the lake’s storage capacity by keeping two feet more water in Lanier. he called for a study to determine the benefits and costs. He also cited recent passage of two Georgia resolutions creating committees to study ways to tap into the Tennessee River along the borders of Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. 
 
Following the business meeting, ACF Stakeholders’ Executive Manager Mark Masters filled attendees in about the work that the group has been doing since it was founded almost 10 years ago. “The group, since the beginning, agreed to operate by consensus,” Masters said. “That basically meant that each of the 56 members would need to be able to say, ‘I can live with that,’ with decisions made. It makes each stakeholder’s voice a powerful one.” 
 
The organization comprises 56 distinct organizations from along the basin. The group divided the basin into four sub-basins, then brought together 14 interest caucus representatives from each of those four regions. They represent interests in water supply, water quality, recreation, hydropower, farming and urban agriculture, local government, history and culture, navigation and other more.  “The basin is a diverse geographic area and we set out to consider the perspectives of all the stakeholders,” Masters said. “We all agreed that the basin can be managed better than politicians.”
 
In 2015, the ACF Stakeholders adopted a Sustainable Water Management Plan, making it available to government officials, local organizations along the ACF Basin and the Corps of Engineers. “It’s not the silver bullet, but it’s a heck of a place to start,” Masters said, referring to a possible resolution of the Tri-State Water Wars, which have raged on for nearly 30 years.
 
As decisions near from the U.S. Supreme Court about the lawsuit between Florida and Georgia over waters in the ACF Basin, Masters noted that the Special Master hearing the case last year had a copy of the ACF’s Sustainable Water Management Plan on his desk during the proceedings. “His copy was dog-eared,” Masters said. 
 
Masters offered an encouraging outcome. “This is an imminently solvable issue and we can get there,” he said. “No matter what the ruling in June or July from the Supreme Court, it will mean a change and could create a vacuum. We hope that the work done by the ACF Stakeholders could provide a way to fill that vacuum.”
 
For more info or to join the group, visit www.lakelanier.org.

Association holds Solar Lights survey
 
The Lake Lanier Association is soliciting input about the next phase of its Solar Lights initiative. The association has installed more than 280 yellow solar lights on hazard markers around Lake Lanier. Is there interest from the community in placing flashing red or green solar lights on channel inlets? Please send comments to the association through its website/contact us or through the group’s Facebook Page. The association will be using the comments and feedback as it seeks approval from the Corps of Engineers for this phase of the Solar Lights Program.
 
Visit the group’s website: www.lakelanier.org to find a link to its Facebook page.

Posted online 3/30/18

 
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