ATLANTA — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday it will restrict the flow of water from a major reservoir that serves as the main water supply for Atlanta as a conservation step during the drought.
Army officials plan to cut the flow of water from Lake Lanier from 750 cubic feet per second to 650 cubic feet per second, corps spokesman Pat Robbins said. He said the reduced flow into the Chattahoochee River would not be perceptible to the eye. It is intended to slowly build up the water in the reservoir in case river systems run low in the coming months.
Water from Lake Lanier drains into the Chattahoochee, which curves around Atlanta and flows along the line with Alabama. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers merge near the Florida line to form the Apalachicola River. Additional dams south of Lake Lanier help regulate the flow of water across the entire basin.
“If the lower lakes don’t get any additional rain, you’ve got to have water from somewhere,” Robbins said. “And that’s the purpose of holding it back at Lake Lanier – it’s for the health of the system.”
Georgia authorities asked the corps to restrict flows from the hydroelectric dam at Lake Lanier this month. The Army said it reviewed information supplied by Georgia officials and determined the reduced flow of water into the Chattahoochee would not harm the environment.
Army officials said they have already taken similar steps along the Alabama, Coosa and Tallapoosa river system that is shared by Georgia and Alabama.
Georgia is locked in a long-running legal dispute over metro Atlanta’s use of Lake Lanier, which is the main water supply for roughly 3 million people. Alabama and Florida say that Congress never authorized metro Atlanta to pull drinking water from the reservoir and that the city uses too much, harming the environment and industry downstream.
Officials in Alabama and Florida did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the reduction in water flow from Lake Lanier.