Today's lake level: 1071.94
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Jul. 17, 2018
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Lanier back to full pool after nearly 20 months

By Pamela A. Keene
 
Water levels at Lake Lanier have finally reached full winter pool of 1070 mean feet above sea level (msl) for the first time since May 2016 thanks in part to heavy rains in early February.
 
“Two things have contributed to reaching full winter pool this year,” said James Hathorn, Mobile District Water Management Chief. “It was a combination of enlisting drought operations for the (ACF River Basin) at the right time over the course of the last year, and heavy precipitation in the area over the last 10 days (between February 5 and 15).”
 
With heavy rainfall in the winter of 2015-16, Lake Lanier water levels spiked to almost 1076 feet above sea level, nearly five feet above full summer pool of 1071. By late January 2016 levels had dropped back to around full pool. But as of mid-May 2016, levels started to decline again as North Georgia faced rainfall deficits and various stages of drought.
 
After maintaining levels around full summer pool for several months, water levels steadily dropped from May 2016 to December 2016 to a low of just above 1060. By spring of 2017, the Corps entered drought operations, which meant reducing the outflows from Buford Dam to account for the drought. Increased rainfall between mid-March and mid-July brought levels to around 1065, and the Corps suspended drought operations. The levels remained around 1065-1066, until early February 2018. 

The recent significant rainfall has brought the lake levels to just over 1070 msl. According to the Corps’ four-week projections, lake levels may drop slightly through mid-April.  “Beyond five weeks is difficult to forecast,” Hathorn said. “How water levels at Lake Lanier fare through the remainder of the spring and summer will depend greatly on the amount of rainfall that we receive across the entire ACF system because we operate it as a whole, and not by individual projects.” 
 
Federally authorized project purposes include flood-risk management, hydropower, navigation, water supply, water quality, fish and wildlife conservation and recreation. However, “‘the greatest contributing factor to reservoir levels is amount of precipitation above and below the dam,” said Tim Oberle, with the Mobile District. 
 
For more information about Lake Lanier water levels, visit the Corps’ Lake Lanier website, http://lanier.uslakes.info/level.asp.

Posted online 3/3/0/18
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