Lake Lanier is at its highest level in almost two years.
Above-average rainfall has brought the level to within 4.21 feet of full pool, its optimum operating level. The last time the lake was this high was July 26, 2011.
“We’re thrilled,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association. “It causes a little bit of an inconvenience for the property owners, because they have to keep adjusting their docks, but it’s an inconvenience people are happy to have.”
Thursday’s reading stands in sharp contrast to conditions two months ago, when the lake fell to 13 feet below full pool, its lowest level in three years. At the time, dock operators were losing spots to a growing shoreline.
To make matters worse, the Army Corps of Engineers stepped up its releases from Buford Dam to feed thirsty streams and lakes along the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin south of Lanier.
The corps uses the releases to maintain water quality in the Chattahoochee River and water supply for metro Atlanta. It also schedules releases to help meet flow requirements for endangered species along the basin, which extends into Florida and Alabama.
“What this means is the basin is recovering,” corps spokesman Pat Robbins said. “All the lakes are at or near where they should be this time of year if you look at historic averages.”
Sally Bethea, executive director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a river restoration group, said the rains have been welcome news for the system. But, she added, she would like to see more consistency in river flows along the Chattahoochee and farther downstream.