Water quality is a constant concern
What flows into the water, such as fertilizers and other nutrients, is a big environmental concern.
“We need to protect Lake Lanier from algal blooms, especially harmful ones,” Zitsch said. “Once you lose a lake, it’s hard to get it back.”
Heavy rainfall and too much fertilizer may be causing serious water quality problems for Lake Lanier, according to environmental watchdog group Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.
Over the past two years, chlorophyll levels at five monitoring sites between Buford Dam and Browns Bridge have exceeded state standards, the group said in a March report.
Too much algae in the water can “negatively affect water quality, impact taste and smell of drinking water even after treatment, raise the cost of treating water to meet drinking water standards, and cause decreased oxygen levels that fish and other aquatic life need to survive,” Chattahoochee Riverkeeper said.
Tennessee River as a water source?
Claims that bad surveying may have kept the Tennessee River out of Georgia have surfaced as an issue over the years but never has gained much traction.
Zitsch expects that to continue to be not much of an issue.
“I think we need to plan on our water from our own backyard,” she said. “In order to get a water withdrawal permit, we would need (the Tennessee Valley Authority) to approve it and I would find (chances) slim to none.”
“I think we need to not think of the Tennessee River. We have ample supply (in Georgia), as long as we’re using it wisely,” Zitsch said.
Raising Lanier’s full pool remains an issue
Raising Lake Lanier’s full pool level by 2 feet has also been a longstanding issue. Lanier’s summer full pool is 1,071 feet above sea level and winter full pool is 1,070 feet.
Zitsch said she’s in favor of studying the issue.
“The challenge with raising (the level) is that it will cause additional flooding and impacts to everybody who lives on the lake,” she said. “But we need to study it, because if we find we can mitigate damage to local properties and doesn’t increase flooding risks, that 2 feet is a lot of water.”
Zitsch said there is widespread agreement to raising the level. Disagreements lie in “where does that (additional) water go? Does it get allocated to environmental needs downstream, does it sit in the lake all the time to keep levels up for recreational purposes?”
Read more:: Five takeaways from Lake Lanier water discussion