By Nicole Burns
With the nonstop rain, North Georgia has been receiving, it should come as no surprise that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been forced to close boat ramps and parks all over Lake Lanier. The Corps said the lake level as of February 23, 2019, sits at 1075.62′ and is expected to rise even more over the coming days.
With two river basins, the Chattahoochee and the Chestatee rivers and the past week of sometimes torrential rain have caused the inflow into the lake to outpace the daily outflow at Buford Dam. According to the Lake Lanier Association’s Facebook page, as of Friday morning, the outflow at Buford Dam was 583 cubic feet per second. The net inflow from the two rivers into Lake Lanier was 7,857 cubic feet per second. This did not take into account rain falling directly onto the surface of the lake, inflow from minor tributaries, or the direct inflow from the shoreline.
In a February 21, 2019 press release, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that they have been forced to completely close the popular West Bank Park on the south end of the lake due to safety concerns. With the ground being so saturated, the Corps cannot make necessary repairs to the park they deem unsafe.
“Fluctuations in the lake level over the past year have created certain unsafe conditions,” said Timothy Rainey, operations project manager for the Lake Lanier Project Office. “We must wait until conditions are conducive to make the repairs, and we do not have an estimated time frame for when that will occur.”
After conditions clear up enough for them to survey and repair the damage, the Corps said they will announce when the repairs have been made and the park can re-open.
West Bank Park joins a long list of additional parks and boat ramps that the Corps have been forced to close. Currently, the following parks and boat ramps are closed (see parenthesis for details):
Old Federal Day Use
Van Pugh North
West Bank (closed completely)
Long Hollow (courtesy dock only)
Sardis Creek (and the road to the Rangers station)
For the most current news on Lake Lanier closures, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LakeSidneyLanierUSACE/ or call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at (770) 945-9531.
With the lake sitting at more than 5.5′ above its full Winter pool, local lakeside businesses are also being impacted. Homeowners along its shoreline are having to monitor conditions and keep an eye out for any dock related problems that might pop up as a result of the rising water. Dock owners are encouraged to check their dock poles and shore anchor lines to make sure their docks don’t break free and float around the lake.
Boaters are urged to be extra careful while navigating the lake. With docks and other items being washed out into the lake, navigating the lake needs extra vigilant eyes to safely get around. If that wasn’t enough to urge caution, consider the fact that trees, land, and other items that were once visible above the surface of the water could now be submerged just below the surface of the water. Boaters could potentially hit those newly submerged things and be thrown overboard or cause damage to their boats. Boaters are cautioned to slow down, stay alert, and as always, wear life jackets while on Lake Lanier.