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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Low water levels demand answers

Published November 27, 2007
Lake Sidney Lanier is a big, deep reservoir on the Chattahoochee River. So when it drains, it can be slow to refill without a lot of rain.

Because it can hold 624 billion gallons when full, Lake Lanier plays a key role in a water dispute between Alabama, Florida and Georgia that's been fought in the courts since 1990. Alabama and Georgia want water for cities and hydropower, while Florida wants water to maintain the seafood industry at Apalachicola Bay.

Lake Lanier has dropped 16 feet since early May under a plan to provide water for threatened and endangered mussels and sturgeon in the Apalachicola River. Florida officials say the water also supports the estuary and seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay.

Lanier has continued to drain, even after the Corps of Engineers on Nov. 16 reduced flow from Jim Woodruff Dam at the Florida state line. Georgia officials have said the Atlanta area faces water shortages if the reservoir continues to drain without rainfall.

Lake Lanier sits near the top of the river basin that extends from the mountains of North Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico. Only 6 percent of the basin drains into Lake Lanier, according to the Army Corps of Engineers

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