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Corps hope releases will stop Lake Lanier from hitting new record high
Plan is to make heavy releases Thursday
Sections of West Bank Park in eastern Forsyth County were taped off Tuesday so visitors couldn't get too close to the rising water of Lake Lanier. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to start heavy releases of water Thursday to draw Lanier down to its winter full pool of 1,070 feet. - photo by Jim Dean

GAINESVILLE — Lake Lanier’s historic high water level is 1,077.15 feet above sea level, recorded on April 14, 1964.

But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopes the lake doesn’t get near that mark, and it will start heavy releases Thursday to draw Lanier down to its winter full pool of 1,070 feet.

That is, if the weather cooperates.

“If it is raining within the basin and we increase releases, more folks will be flooded downstream,” corps spokeswoman Lisa Parker said.

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City is calling for wet weather Wednesday, with drier conditions moving in Thursday and lingering through Monday.

Drawing down the lake level, which was at 1,074.5 feet Tuesday evening, “could take more than a month because of forecasted above-average rainfall and limited release capacity,” according to a Tuesday news release from the corps.

Meanwhile, the high levels are causing a host of closings at corps recreation sites around Lanier. The corps has an “action plan” that addresses steps to be taken as water crests certain levels.

Chief Ranger Chris Arthur said he hasn’t seen water go higher than 1,076 feet above sea level in his 16 years.

“I’ve seen it low, for sure,” he said, referring to the 2007-09 drought.

Lanier dropped to a historic low level of 1,050.79 feet on Dec. 26, 2007.

According to corps data, the last time Lanier was higher than it was Tuesday afternoon was Feb. 3, 1996, when it reached 1,074.57 feet.