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Monday, April 21, 2008

$138 mistake led to release of 22 billion gallons from Lake Lanier

Published 4/20/2008
More than a year before Georgia's historic drought demanded the Atlanta area's attention, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accidentally released about 22 billion gallons of water downstream from Lake Lanier in 2006, while trying to save taxpayers $138.

That's the cost of a simple metal pulley the Corps decided not to replace when workers thought they fixed a gauge that measures the water level at Lanier, the Atlanta area's main source of drinking water.

Because of a miscommunication over whether that part was replaced with a different-size pulley, the Corps calibrated the gauge incorrectly, according to a Corps investigative report obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. As a result, the gauge indicated the lake level was higher than it actually was, causing the Corps to release too much water downstream over a 52-day period ending in June 2006.

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