Wastewater to empty into Lanier

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Lake Lanier could be a little fuller today.

While the recent rains are beginning to help the lake swell, officials today will turn on a valve to begin discharging treated wastewater into Lanier.

Environmental officials signed off Tuesday on the recently completed construction of a 7.2-mile pipeline for the water to move from treatment at the F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center to the lake.

"This is big for the environment. This is big for the water wars. This is huge," county spokesman Joe Sorenson said of today's scheduled release.

For decades, the county's wastewater has been discharged directly into the Chattahoochee River, but state officials sought the Lanier discharge to try to pump up the lake, which is the state's leading drinking water source.

For a decade, the proposal has been through a court battle, where strict limits were applied to the discharge as well as a two-year construction phase.

Gwinnett County uses an average of 65 to 70 million gallons a day from the lake for drinking water, although a federal judge has said that Atlanta may no longer be able to use the lake's water for drinking in the future.

Officials are hoping the discharge can bolster Gwinnett's standing in the case.