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Agreement continues program monitoring Lanier's water quality

LAWRENCEVILLE - A North Georgia College professor will keep an eye on Lake Lanier, as officials approved a partnership to monitor water quality at metro Atlanta's largest water supply.

Gwinnett commissioners Tuesday approved an intergovernmental agreement with Hall and Forsyth counties and the city of Gainesville to continue the 12-year-old monitoring program for another three years. The four jurisdictions will split the nearly $40,000 cost.

"With the ongoing drought, there remains a need to continue surveillance of the lake in the interest of protecting the region's water supply," Chairman Charles Bannister said.

In the past, the project has included detailed modeling of Lake Lanier and demonstration projects on protecting water quality in watersheds that drain to the lake.

Pete Wright, an engineer in the county's stormwater division, said the group watches the impact of industry and development on Lake Lanier to make recommendations. Phosphorus and other nutrients found in fertilizers and other sources can pollute the lake via runoff from the land and can cause algae growth that makes it difficult and expensive to produce drinking water from the lake, according to a press release.

"Anything that drains into the lake, we are interested in," Wright said, adding that other jurisdictions with border along the lake participate in the project, although they do not share the costs. "It's good to have quality information from a reputable entity."