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Lake Lanier level highest since 2016
Corps releasing water 24 hours a day
Children play on what is usually a beach area Wednesday at West Bank Park. Recent rains have caused the lake to swell above summer full pool levels of 1,071.00. Thursday the levels were 1,073.80 - photo by Tracie Pike

For much of 2017, the concrete walkway around West Bank Park rose out of Lake Lanier by a few feet as the lake never reached full summer pool. On Wednesday, that walkway was under water.

On Thursday, the lake level reached 1,073.5 feet above sea level, two-and-a-half feet more than the lake’s full summer pool of 1,071. On Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced Buford Dam would be releasing water 24 hours a day.

Lake Lanier
The walkway at West Bank Park is partially submerged in water. - photo by Tracie Pike
“Rainfall of 6-8 inches from Tropical Storm Alberto that fell in the watershed above Lake Lanier during the last 48 hours has pushed lake levels above 1,073 and an additional rise is expected,” said E. Patrick Robbins, district spokesperson, in a news release.  “We need to begin evacuating water from the lake to get back to the normal 1,071 summer pool.”

Water will be released at a rate of 9,000 cubic feet per second on weekdays and 7,000 cubic feet per second on weekends.

It is expected to take about two weeks, without additional rainfall, to reach normal summer pool.

Robbins recommended staying out of the Chattahoochee River, where the water will be released, during that time.

“Wading and other uses of the river will be impossible at these flows.  Only experienced boaters should attempt navigation during this time,” he said.  “We advise everyone to be aware of these additional flows and take all necessary safety precautions.”

Thursday’s level was not only the highest lake level of the year but the highest level since January 2016, when the level reached more than 1,075 feet.

Lake Lanier did not reach full pool in 2017.