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Posted: May 1, 2013 8:20 a.m.

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Lake Lanier begins summer full of water

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — After persistent drought conditions, a popular north Georgia lake is beginning the summer recreation season with a full pool of water.

Lake Lanier, northeast of Atlanta, is at 1,072.29 feet. That is the highest it has been since Feb. 8, 2010, when the lake was at 1,072.34.

The last time Lanier was higher on May 1 was in 2003, The Times of Gainesville reported (

With summer tourism season about to get under way, "you can't get better than that," said Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"Also, a fuller lake means a safer lake, making the lake a better, more enjoyable experience," Dickson told the Gainesville newspaper.

The water level was far lower just a few months ago.

During the devastating 2007-09 drought, the water level was drained to 1,050.79 feet above sea level.

Then, on Dec. 18, The lake dropped to 1,056.33 feet, nearly 14 feet below the winter full pool of 1,070 feet.

Since that date, however, the lake began a steady upward climb.

Much of that can be attributed to higher amounts of rainfall.

According to National Weather Service data, Gainesville had received 24.83 inches of rain this year as of Tuesday, and the normal year-to-date rainfall amount through Tuesday was 19.19 inches, a surplus of 5.64 inches.

Because of increased rainfall and a full lake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will increase the minimum flow at Peachtree Creek near Vinings northwest of Atlanta to 750 cubic feet per second from 650 cfs, which had been the flow since late December.

"The good news is that the extended drought forecast for the Southeast region is much better this year than what we saw this time last year," said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association.

"So, hopefully we will see higher lake levels as we move into summer and fall," she said. Still, "this puts the pressure back on all of us to once again step up our conservation efforts."


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