BUFORD — Lake Lanier property owners upset over an Army Corps of Engineers decision to ban pulling water from the lake for irrigation of lawns now have reason to celebrate.
The corps decided Wednesday to reverse the decision, “following a meeting with concerned adjacent landowners,” states an email from Mobile, Ala., District spokeswoman Lisa Parker.
“We are suspending implementation of that portion of the new shoreline management policy that prohibits minor water withdrawals at lakes across the South Atlantic Division while we further review the policy and its implications for adjacent shoreline residents.”
Corps districts “will suspend the implementation of the policy effective immediately until the review is complete and further guidance is issued."
“This is great news,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association.
Cloud said she appreciated U.S. Rep. Doug Collins’ efforts to help get the policy reversed and Brig. Gen. C. David Turner, commander of the corps’ South Atlantic Division, “understanding … the angst and concern this ruling has created among Lake Lanier property owners.”
The rules, which became effective Jan. 1, had affected all property owners who have a permit to pump water on their property.
They did allow water to be used for washing permitted docks and boats moored at docks so long as water fell back into the reservoir.
The restriction would have brought shoreline management into compliance with laws dating to the 1940s that called for construction of dams and reservoirs but “never authorized irrigation, in any amount, as a project purpose,” corps officials had said.
Collins, a Republican from Gainesville, was pleased by the development, saying he had talked to Turner by phone about the matter and that, during the call, Turner announced the rules suspension.
In a prepared statement, Collins said that before the call, he had met with “numerous constituents, including the Lake Hartwell Homeowners Association, to discuss how to best fight against this burdensome and costly change.”
He added: “While the corps initially failed to behave in a transparent manner, they’ve responded to our criticism and reversed course.
“This is a win for property owners across northeast Georgia.”