Recent rainfall helps drought, but not enough for Lake Lanier

By: Katie Walls

Updated:

FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - Recent rainfall has helped the drought situation in the metro, but it hasn’t been enough for the metro’s main drinking water supply, Lake Lanier.

Lake levels were 5.7 feet below normal as of Wednesday morning. While still low, it’s improved since January’s low reading of 1060.3 feet, nearly 11 feet below normal.

“We’re very fortunate that it has actually been rising lately, but we started in a deep hole. We were 11 feet down and now we’re still 6 feet down, so while this rain has been good it hasn’t been enough,” explained Chattahoochee River Keeper, Jason Ulseth.

The only part of north Georgia still in a moderate drought is in northeast Georgia, specifically in the headwaters that feed Lake Lanier.

“When we get rain, only a small amount of land in just a couple counties drain into the lake. So all of this rain that we’ve had downstream of the dam doesn’t help at all to actually fill the lake back up again,” said Ulseth.

Because of the low lake levels, a Level 2 Drought Response remains in effect for Cobb, Coweta, Dekalb, Douglas, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Lumpkin, Paulding and White counties. Drought Response Level 2 limits outdoor landscape watering to two days a week determined by odd and even-numbered addresses. Even-numbered and unnumbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursday and Sunday before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

For anyone traveling to Lake Lanier, the extra shoreline is clear, but debris beneath the surface may not be.

“Diving into the water at any time can be dangerous but especially when the lake is down. People diving underwater may have underwater hazards that were not there before,” explained U.S. Army Corps of Engineers natural resource manager Nick Baggett.

He reminds boaters to steer clear of buoys, marking exposed rocks and debris. “You can damage your boat and more importantly it’s a hazard to your life. It can throw people from the boat.” 

Next Up: