As the 50th anniversary of the dedication of Buford Dam is celebrated Tuesday, Lake Lanier is in the news for more than its birthday. Here, eight other reasons you may have read about the lake this year and what is happening at Georgia's great lake five decades after its dedication.
Lake Lanier's level is more than 12 feet lower than full pool with the continuation of the worst drought the state has seen since the 1920s, and officials expect it to continue falling.
Wednesday, the lake level was 1,058.65 feet. At its lowest, Lake Lanier was 1,052.66 feet on Dec. 23, 1981.
The low waters expose hazards that make boating dangerous and reveal more shoreline.
Georgia has been embroiled in lawsuits with Alabama and Florida over how much water is released from Lake Lanier for more than a decade. Georgia's lawyers claim the state needs the water for its burgeoning population, while the other states' lawyers say the water is needed to protect businesses and for endangered mussels and sturgeon to survive.
The suits have been moved to a Florida district court.
Gwinnett County will discharge 40 million gallons of treated wastewater into Lake Lanier daily.
Early next year, the county will begin building a pipeline that will return water into the lake. Now, the county is waiting for an easement from the Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction.
The agreement was reached after five years of litigation with the Lake Lanier Association.
Raising lake level
Members of the Lake Lanier Association have suggested raising Lake Lanier's full pool water level by 2 feet, a move they say would add 25 billion gallons of water to the lake.
The proposal is being considered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Mobile, Ala., as part of an environmental impact statement for the lake.
Lake Lanier Islands renovation
The Emerald Pointe Hotel and Conference Center has been renovated, and more changes are on the way at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. Last August, lease owner Virgil Williams laid out a master plan for the resort's 1,100 acres.
He expects to spend $20 million on new cottages, hotels and wedding venues on the land.
Gov. Sonny Perdue announced an initiative early this year, Go Fish Georgia, that seeks to bring fishing tournaments and other related tourism to Lake Lanier and other Georgia waterways.
Top bass anglers will meet with corps employees about scheduling a tournament there, but low water levels may cripple their efforts. The $19 million initiative was announced in January.
Boat dock moratorium
A moratorium on new boat dock permits was announced in April. It was originally meant to give the Army Corps of Engineers an opportunity to determine how many dock permits remain available.
The moratorium was extended so park rangers who focus on shoreline management could educate people about public safety after several drownings in the lake. Now, the moratorium will stay in place until the lake is above 1,064 feet.
Buford Dam is undergoing security and maintenance upgrades.
After Sept. 11, security upgrades began around the dam and powerhouse.
Sluice gates, tunnels that allow water to come through the dam without going through the electrical generators, are being upgraded as is a 50-year-old crane.