Group stresses impact of lake

BUFORD - The true meaning of the 1071 Coalition to protect Lake Lanier is right there in the name.

A 1,071 pool level signifies the lake is full at exactly 1,071 feet above sea level. The coalition part is an advocacy group made up of business and government leaders as well as everyday citizens, and their job is to keep preaching and fighting until that 1,071 full pool level is reached.

The group officially got started on some of its work at a reception Tuesday night with hundreds in attendance at the Lake Lanier Islands Legacy Lodge.

And with Tuesday's pool level reading for Lanier coming in at 1,051 feet the group has got plenty of work in front of them, especially as it tries to stave off a record low reached last Dec. 26 when the lake measured in at 1,050.79 feet above sea level.

"It's in all of our interests to be engaged in this process," said Atlanta Regional Commission and Cobb County Chairman Sam Olens. "This is a Georgian issue. All of economic development is affected by issues such as this drought and the 19 years of litigation. And you've got millions of people and thousands of business depending on this lake, not just for water supply. But for recreation and for jobs."

It's for this reason that the group is trying to commission a $200,000 study on the impact of Lake Lanier on the area economy. Other goals of the coalition include influencing the water control plan, highlighting efforts to reduce flows from Buford Dam, encouraging users of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin to match metro-Atlanta conservation results, and bolstering the state's position in the public relations wars with Florida and Alabama.

According to Wilton Rooks, a member of the Lake Lanier Association and of the 1071 coalition, recent water management practices undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are hurting Lanier's ability to meet the metro Atlanta water supply and recreation needs.

"The water control plan needs to maximize the ability of the lake to refill to provide a cushion in times of drought," Rooks said. "Considering Lake Lanier has a small watershed and is slow to fill, the Corps needs to conserve as much storage as possible at the top of the ACF system."

For more information on the 1071 Coalition, visit www.1071coalition.org.