Officials: Now that Lanier is full, keep it that way

LAWRENCEVILLE -- During the depths of the drought, some people thought Lake Lanier would never be full again.

But recent rains helped metro Atlanta's largest water supplier reach its full level Wednesday.

Now, officials want to make sure it never sinks to the lows that hit records last year.

"Today is a landmark day and it is heartening to once again see Lake Lanier at full pool after four long years," Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who lives in Gainesville, said Wednesday. "While this is great news and something that is encouraging to businesses and citizens, we still have much to accomplish in order to fully protect Lake Lanier and our state's water resources."

Cagle wrote a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers again asking for the increase in the full level, so more of the state's "liquid gold" is stored for times of drought.

"It is simply absurd that we can't better manage Lake Lanier and take full advantage of the current abundant supply, especially when Lake Lanier not only meets the water needs of millions of citizens, but is a catalyst for many businesses and economic growth," he said.

An organization dedicated to preserving the lake level is organizing a second annual meeting for people interested in the cause.

Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Carol Council will be the keynote speaker for the free event, scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Legacy Lodge at Lake Lanier Islands Resort in Buford.

Other officials said people should not abandon conservation efforts while celebrating the lake's full level.

In a joint statement, Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Sam Olens and Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Chairwoman Kit Dunlap said people need to remain vigilant.

"This milestone is no reason to abandon responsible water conservation practices," the statement said. "In fact, it is imperative that we make water conservation a way of life in the Atlanta region. While Lake Lanier may be full today, metro Atlanta's water resources are still precious and finite. We must use them wisely and responsibly."

Tips for conservation can be found at www.northgeorgia.org or www.conservewatergeorgia.net.