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Corps of Engineers says Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River water conditions back to 'normal'

WaterWebster.org Staff Report

June 1, 2009

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The Army Corps of Engineers said today adequate rainfall in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Rivers watershed means management of the region can return to 'normal' following a three-year drought.

At the height of the Southeast U.S. drought zone 4 water management restrictions, the most severe possible, were in place along the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint rivers, triggering heightened arguments over water sharing between Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

"Near normal rainfall over the past few months, along with prudent water management, have enabled Lake Lanier to rise more than 15 feet to above elevation 1066, about five feet from the top of full summer level (1071’)," said a Corps news release. "The lakes in the middle and lower basin – West Point Lake, Walter F. George and Lake Seminole – are at their full summer levels."

The region's water allocations are managed under the Revised Interim Operating Plan for Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam. Under the operating plan, the Corps, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During the drought, some water that normally would have been sent down stream, was held in reserve. Downstream users in Florida and Alabama feared loss of the water would severely damage water life, oyster harvesting and power supplies. Government officials in Georgia argued water needed to stay in Lake Lanier to protect drinking water resources in the Atlanta area.

The Corps' Mobile District Public Affairs Officer, E. Patrick Robbins, said in the news release that “due to the lower lakes being at full summer levels we should be able to meet downstream needs with normal basin inflow for the foreseeable future. Releases from Lake Lanier will continue to be just for water quality and water supply requirements at this time.”

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