With a public hearing scheduled for Feb. 5, it appears that months-long talks over how to repair a damaged Lake Lanier cove are coming to a close.
The parties involved in the process — the city of Cumming and Mashburn family trust — have agreed to a plan of action that could restore the cove to normal by summer, according to Michael Carvalho, attorney for the family.
The cove was flooded with silt May 19, when the dam containing nearby Lake Alice was breached during heavy rains.
The Mashburn family owned a large portion of the dam, while the city owned a large portion of the water in the private lake. Together with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division, they have come up with a corrective action plan.
Tony Campbell with the EPD’s Mountain District said both parties worked collectively on the plan, with the goal to restore the cove to its state before the breach.
“We’re wanting to make sure that there’s as little impact downstream as possible from this point on,” he said. “I shared with both parties at our site visit that we’re representing everybody. We’re representing environmental groups, we represent the people who’ve been impacted ... and we represent the family and the city.
“We’re trying to find as much of a win-win all around for everybody, giving them as much guidance as we can for how to bring closure to this situation in the most environmentally consciously effort that we possibly can.”
The plan is for the Mashburn family to install a weir structure instead of replacing the dam, something all parties appear to agree is the best course of action.
A weir is a barrier that forms an obstruction smaller than most dams, pooling water behind it while also allowing it to flow steadily over the top.
Once the structure can effectively stem sediment from Lake Alice’s bed from reaching Lanier, the city would be responsible for dredging and cleaning the cove.
Scott Morgan, director of the city’s planning and zoning department, said the remediation plan has “complete agreement from both parties.”
Morgan added that the plan “could change depending on public input [at the hearing], perhaps an idea the engineers had not considered.”
Carvalho said if all plans are approved in a timely manner, the weir and cleanup could be complete by summer.
“We have the right people for the job to get it done and we’re dealing with the right people at the EPD and the right people at the [U.S. Army] Corps [of Engineers],” Carvalho said. “We’ll make decisions that are in the best interest of the community and the best interest of the parties and get this thing resolved.
“We have tried to be as comprehensive as possible in our concept design and we are open to comments from the public and anyone who wants to provide commentary.”
The public hearing, which is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 5 at Cumming City Hall, is open to the community, as well as the 50 cove residents impacted by the dam breach.