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Lake Lanier Association reflects on year of success
Group discusses irrigation ban, cleanup efforts at annual meeting in north Forsyth

NORTH FORSYTH — A relaxed feeling, the result of a year of hard work, filled the air Saturday evening at Port Royale Marina as members of the Lake Lanier Association held their annual meeting.

District 9 U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville, who recently opposed a proposed irrigation ban by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told the gathering he had taken some measures of which the corps may not be aware.

“We helped them out last week, they may not know this yet,” Collins said. “We added a letter to the appropriations process in Washington, D.C., this month ... we’re putting in and asking that no moneys be allowed to enforce or implement the irrigation program on Lake Hartwell or Lake Lanier.”

The irrigation ban had been proposed earlier this year, and was one of several issues the association addressed.

The group has been working to improve policies to clear abandoned docks and vessels, which it and the corps have lacked the resources to handle.

Joanna Cloud, executive director of the association, told attendees she had received some good, though not quite official, news that morning.

“We have seven outstanding right now that are in the high risk category,” she said. “We got authorization this morning from [District 9 state] Rep. Kevin Tanner ... He has been instrumental in getting $25,000 allocated in our 2017 state budget, it is earmarked for abandoned vessel removal on Lake Lanier.”

She said that while the funding hasn’t been approved by Gov. Nathan Deal, the prospects appear likely.

Cloud said that other trash removal efforts had been successful throughout 2015, including a litter tap for Flat Creek in Gainesville, which is emptied once a week rather than once a month.

Efforts to protect lake islands from erosion, including the use of riprap, were also discussed.

Rich York, an association board member, said the group had worked with the University of North Georgia to highlight the extent of the problem.

“What they did, using satellite imagery, compared the land mass of those 21 islands as of 1980 and again in 2010,” York said. “What we found was that on average the land mass had eroded by 11 percent, some as high as 43 percent.”

According to York, an effort to add more solar light to the lake had been slowed in 2015 by having to get an inspection and monitoring system in place. Still, the group was still able to add 65 more lights, bringing the total to 186.

He said the association hopes to add 100 to 120 this year.

Also during the event, Diane and Tom Rothberg were recognized for the volunteer efforts.