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Our view: The water is back, so let's keep it there

The rain this week made for some gloomy days, but there was a bright spot amidst the precipitation. For the first time since 2005, Lake Lanier reached full pool.

It's an amazing recovery for a lake that as recently as December was 20 feet below full pool - 1,071.10 feet above sea level. A year before that, Dec. 26, 2007, Lake Lanier was at its most distressed at 1,050.79 feet, part of the Southeast's epic drought.

Now, after rising more than two feet in two weeks, the lake is at full pool and the National Weather Service predicts it will exceed that level by a foot by mid-week. It's good news for Gwinnett residents and for businesses on and near the lake.

"Having Lake Lanier full and usable by everyone is a positive thing for the community," Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce president Jim Maran said.

The drought forced area residents to be more conservation conscious, and officials say that shouldn't change despite the good news that the lake is at full pool. Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Sam Olens and Metropolitan Georgia Water Planning District Chairwoman Kit Dunlap urged residents to continue to conserve.

"This milestone is no reason to abandon responsible water conservation practices," they said in a joint statement. "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."

So as we celebrate Lake Lanier's rebound, it's important to keep in mind how far we have come since the drought. For tips on conserving, go to www.conservewatergeorgia.net.