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Lake levels on the rise

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman A buoy is shown completely dry and out of the water at Van Pugh Park on Lake Lanier Monday afternoon.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman A buoy is shown completely dry and out of the water at Van Pugh Park on Lake Lanier Monday afternoon.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Forecasters say the system moving in today may bering anywhere from an inch to an inch and a half of rainfall and will help the dry spots along Lake Lanier.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman A buoy and a pole to mark how deep the water usually is along the beach at Van Pugh Park on Lake Lanier is shown dried up on Monday afternoon as drought conditions continue in the area. The lake is currently at about 1,058 feet above pool, but full pool for winter is 1,070 feet.

BUFORD -- As the area continues to experience drought conditions, Alex Laidlaw is wary but hopeful about Lake Lanier's slowly rising water levels.

Laidlaw, who is vice president of the company that owns Holiday on Lake Lanier Marina in Buford, said it doesn't feel like the same drought pattern that devastated the area in 2007 and 2008.

"There's still a lot of boating out here," Laidlaw said. "We're in much better shape now than we were back then, and we're hopeful the lake won't go down much further."

Businesses like Holiday on Lake Lanier depend on a good lake level. Recent and forecasted weather patterns indicate that there is good news in the forecast for the lake, which is also Gwinnett County's water source.

According to the National Weather Service, the lake level rose from 1,057.91 feet above sea level on Nov. 28 to 1,058.33 on Dec. 1, and it has held since then.

Full pool for winter is 1,070 feet.

A chance of forecasted rain Tuesday and Wednesday is a positive in light of current drought conditions, said local weather expert Jon Richards.

Richards said that anywhere from half an inch to 1 inch is predicted for the area this week.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Alex Gibbs said by the time people wake up on Tuesday "it should probably be raining."

Gibbs said much of North Georgia has remained under drought conditions for much of the year with an average of about 10 inches less rainfall than usual for this time of year.

Gwinnett County is classified as being in moderate to severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Pulling from somewhat drought-drained Lake Lanier, Gwinnett County Water Production Division provides water for about 750,000 residents of Gwinnett County, according to its website.

Lanier hit its lowest level in 2007 at 1,050.79 feet.

Richards said that during colder weather "there is more water runoff, because the trees aren't taking in the water like they do during the warm months. It means that whatever rain falls, there are increased inflows into the lake. It could help the drought."

For some people, droughts like that of 2007 served as a wake up call for the worst of possible conditions.

"We spent a million dollars dredging in 2007 and 2008," Laidlaw said. "So, we're prepared. The water has been holding pretty well in the last month. If it doesn't, we're prepared for it. That was one of the few positives to come out of the previous drought. Now, we're ready for just about anything."