For the second year in a row, the Forsyth County commission opted to contribute $20,000 to the Lake Lanier Association for advocacy and education efforts.
Commissioner Jim Boff said the county has historically supported the nonprofit association and felt the money has been well spent.
“They’ve done a great job,” Boff said, highlighting the organization’s recent work installing lighted buoys to improve vision on the lake at night.
The commission voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve the agreement with the association.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the memorandum of understanding tasks the association with advocating for a higher lake level and promoting boater safety through educational materials and courses, as well as preserving and protecting water quality.
Forsyth joined the association in support of increasing the lake’s full pool level by 2 feet, from 1,071 to 1,073 feet above sea level. Doing so, according to the agreement, would increase the available water supply by more than 25 billion gallons.
The contract also states that full pool could be implemented “within 12 to 18 months, while a new and costly reservoir could take 10 years or longer to build.”
The commission initially awarded funds to the organization at the height of the “tri-state water wars,” said Joanna Cloud, the association’s executive director and a north Forsyth resident.
The legal battle between Georgia, Florida and Alabama centered on whether Lanier was authorized as a source of drinking water.
“We were the only entity represented in that litigation that was not a utility company or municipality, and so we were the only ones representing recreational use rights,” Cloud said. “I think Forsyth County felt like it was important to represent that, and the county itself is not really the best one to … argue that point.”
With the litigation seemingly nearing an end, the association has recently focused its efforts on boating safety initiatives.
Cloud said the county’s $20,000 primarily supported three safety efforts: distributing informational boating safety decals for windshields at local retailers and marinas; mailing postcards to many Forsyth registered boat and personal watercraft owners about the safety initiatives and decals; and installing solar lights on existing hazard markers that blink at night.
Eighteen of the 20 buoys installed are on the Forsyth side of the lake, she said, adding that the county is the only one bordering Lanier that makes a monetary contribution.
Gwinnett County provides in-kind donations for water quality lab tests, and Dawson County strongly supports the shore sweep with equipment and volunteers, Cloud said.
She thanked the Forsyth commission for their ongoing support.
“We’re pleased that we’re of service to the community. We’re thrilled that people think our work is valuable,” she said. “And we love hearing community feedback on the programs and services we’re offering.”