CUMMING, Ga. — Forsyth County leaders have continued to lobby the federal government to increase the Lake Sidney Lanier water level by 2 feet and last week voted to amp up their efforts to the tune of $20,000.
A bump in Lake Lanier levels can mean another 26 billion gallons of water reserves for metro Atlanta and the county.
The Lake Lanier Association will enter into a memorandum of understanding with Forsyth County to continue their lobbying efforts to raise lake levels, push for the possibility of dredging and increase a boat safety awareness campaign.
The last time the lake reached full pool at 1,071 feet above sea level was March 1, 2011, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data shows. In January 2012, levels had dropped to 1,058.
Recent rainstorms have caused some flash floods, but also helped boost the lake.
About 7.3 inches of rain fell Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 in the county area, bring levels to 1,065.93 feet by Oct. 5, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.
The county commissioners agreed to give $20,000 to the association at its Oct. 4 meeting.
In May 2011, the county contributed $10,000 to the organization for the lobbying efforts to increase lake levels. Commissioner Brian Tam said the additional funds will go toward a safety campaign for boaters that include water buoy installations. The buoys would be retrofitted with solar panels to provide boaters with illumination in the evenings.
The money would be used by the Lake Lanier Safety Alliance, made up of Georgia Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the association to implement safety campaigns.
Val Perry, executive vice president of the Lanier association, said summertime boating wrecks and ensuing deaths have put a negative spin on public perception.
“In the summer, there were several accidents on the lake,” Perry said. “There was extreme negative publicity about Lake Lanier as a result.”
The lake brings about 8 million people to the area, Perry said.
“What we want is focus on safety and education to be on the forefront,” Perry said. “It’s a very popular lake, it’s a great economic engine for all of north Georgia and certainly Forsyth County.”