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Marinas on Lake Lanier respond to rising water levels
A makeshift boat ramp covers a sunken ramp at Holiday Marina in Buford. Many area marinas were affected by high lake levels following heavy rainfall. - photo by Kristen Oliver


* Many parks, boat ramps closing as Lake Lanier continues to rise.

BUFORD — As Lake Lanier’s water level rises feet above the winter norm, area marinas are making quick adjustments.

High winter rainfall has the lake level rising to 1,074.46 feet above sea level, 4.46 feet above the normal winter full pool.

Alex Laidlaw, vice president of both Sunrise Cove Marina on Flat Creek Road in Gainesville and Holiday Marina on Lanier Islands Parkway in Buford, said his teams are working throughout the day to maintain boats and docks at the marinas.

“We’re just monitoring it kind of hour by hour,” he said. “We look at the [U.S. Army] Corps data, inflow and outflow, and just simply paying attention to where the water levels are around the shoreline. We will go and adjust the dock cables, and at least at this point, we’ll check them once a day.”

After about 2 inches of rainfall Monday, cables at all the Holiday and Sunrise docks had to be adjusted. Laidlaw said that’s the first priority when dealing with changing water levels.

The next priorities are “any anomalies,” he said, such as ramps being under water.

“We’ve got maybe four or five of those at Holiday that we have to deal with, and we’re building temporary ramps,” he said. “Some of the docks will have to have the power shut off temporarily, but really that’s about it.”

The construction of the marinas themselves can make a big difference. Both Holiday and Sunrise Cove are set entirely above 1,075 feet above sea level, Laidlaw said.

“We’re kind of right there right now,” he said. “I think the historical high was about 1,077. So for us right now, it’s not that big of a deal.”

But expected rain throughout the rest of the week will require further monitoring of lake levels.

“It’s just really all hands on deck,” Laidlaw said. “Keeping our eyes open, making sure the situation isn’t getting any worse and keeping an eye on what that water level is and where it’s going.”

Regardless, rising water levels are not the worst-case scenario for lake marinas, and it’s a much “better problem” than those created by drought.

“It’s a better situation this way than the other way,” Laidlaw said. “Without question, we can deal with this pretty well.”