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Group wants county's backing
1071 Coalition fights for Lanier
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County could soon join a coalition that advocates for Lake Lanier.

Grier Todd, president of the 1071 Coalition, talked with county commissioners Tuesday about the group’s mission and how it wants to change U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ guidelines governing Lake Lanier.

Todd said the organization seeks a three-year financial commitment from the county. He added that nearby Hall and Gwinnett counties were looking at each making $10,000 contributions, though neither government has voted to make that official.

The coalition draws its name from the full pool level of Lake Lanier, 1,071 feet above sea level. The lake is the main source of water for Forsyth and neighboring counties, as well as much of metro Atlanta.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have battled for years in court over the rights to water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system.

The fight has grown increasingly bitter in the wake of the ongoing drought, which has left the lake level at about 1,058.

Todd, who is also the chief operating officer of Lake Lanier Islands resort, said the coalition wants to provide a comprehensive economic impact study to present to the corps.

The rules and regulations governing storage and release of water from each reservoir Lake Lanier’s water basin are being updated. Todd said the group also plans to “impact from a PR standpoint.”

“You want to know the truth,” Todd told commissioners. “We’ve been taken to the cleaners by the state of Florida in the [public relations] battle.

“If you ask anyone south of [Buford Dam] why isn’t there water in Lanier, what are they going to say? ‘Metro Atlanta’s drinking it all up.’ Numbers do not justify that.”

According to its mission statement, 1071 Coalition is a “nonprofit organization comprised of citizens, civic groups, businesses and other entities dedicated to maintaining water levels in Lake Sidney Lanier that sustain water supply, recreation and economic prosperity through the advocacy of appropriate, science-based water releases necessary for the [Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint] river basin.”

Chamber of commerce executives from Forsyth, Gwinnett and Hall counties are on the board, as well as a number of marina owners and real estate firms that specialize in lake properties.

In fact, Todd was introduced to commissioners Tuesday by James McCoy, president and chief executive officer of the Cumming-Forsyth County chamber.

Commissioners voted to review the matter at their March 19 meeting, during which they could approve the funding.

“I think we ought to jump in, so to speak,” Commissioner Brian Tam said. “The economy being what it is outside the lake, one simple closing of a valve could make a tremendous difference to this local economy.”

Commissioner Jim Boff was curious about how the organization compared with the Lake Lanier Association, another group aiding an ailing Lake Lanier.

Todd said that while the association has been around for decades, the 1071 Coalition “has a short life span.” Once the corps updates its water control manual guidelines, the coalition will go away.

All the coalition can hope to do is try, Todd said.

“I wish I could guarantee we can make it happen,” he said. “But if we don’t try, then it sure won’t happen.”

E-mail Frank Reddy at