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Corps denies water releases added to flooding
Critics: Dam should have been idle in heavy rains
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Forsyth County News

Water releases from Buford Dam did not contribute to the flooding of homes in the metro Atlanta area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said.

Facing a barrage of criticism from Georgians who accused the corps of mismanaging the water at Lake Lanier, corps spokeswoman Lisa Coghlan said flood control operations were implemented last weekend.

“The corps curtailed its operations on Sept. 19, and only minimal releases of approximately 670 cubic feet per second released through the small house unit have continued,” Coghlan said.

Those releases, about 300,000 gallons per minute, equated to less than an inch at a gauge 30 miles south of the dam in Vinings, according to the corps.

“Releasing from the small unit did not contribute to the localized flooding in the metro Atlanta area,” Coghlan said.

She said the flow out of large dams is rarely halted completely due to adverse impacts on river environments. The small unit generates power for the dam and project offices and “assisted in maintaining viable conditions for essential habitat below the dam."

Several local residents said the corps should have halted all releases.

“Any amount that was added to what was going down would have raised the river,” said Henry Rowe, who lives near Lanier at Hall County’s Harbour Point subdivision. “I just don’t think they should have let any out. Anything they let out contributed to additional flooding.”

Rowe said statements made by the corps earlier this week didn’t match the data posted on the agency’s own Web site.

Information published by the corps showed it was releasing 65 percent of its normal August rate during the time when it supposedly had sharply curtailed releases.

“I just think it warrants further investigation, because what they’re saying and what they’re publishing seem to be two different things,” Rowe said.

The corps said Lake Lanier gained 37 billion gallons of flood water, rising 3 feet in the past few days to reach top 1,068 feet above sea level Friday afternoon, just 3 feet below full pool.