MOBILE, Ala. – On Oct 15, 2012 the Georgia Department of Natural Resources requested the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reduce water quality releases from Lake Sidney Lanier at Buford Dam from 750 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 650 cfs in order to conserve as much storage as possible in Lake Lanier.
At that time and in Nov. and Dec., conditions in the system did not permit reduced flows but USACE agreed to revaluate the request monthly. Releases were increased from Lake Lanier in Nov. and Dec., as the lower lakes began to run out of storage. Conditions in the middle and lower basin reservoirs over the past several weeks have improved slightly.
Consequently, releases from Lake Lanier can now be reduced to meet water quality requirements at Peachtree Creek. “Given the current basin conditions and hydrologic forecasts, the requested flow reduction from 750 cfs to 650 cfs is a prudent action to conserve system storage. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has requested the flow reductions until April 30, 2013 and USACE has agreed,” said Mobile District Public Affairs Officer E. Patrick Robbins. USACE will begin implementation of the lower flow criteria beginning on Saturday, Dec 22, 2012.
“The normal target flow of 750 cfs at Peachtree Creek is to meet minimum water quality standards in the river. The minimum flow requirement, established by Georgia DNR, is in addition to flows required for water supply from the river.” Robbins said.
Mobile District evaluated the data provided by GA DNR and determined the lower flow criteria would have no negative effect on the environment of the river and would provide the ability to conserve storage in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint rivers system. The request also included an adaptive management plan to address any changes that might occur to the environment due to the decreased flows.
“After evaluating the data we determined that the decreased flows would not have a negative effect on the environmental quality of the river and would allow some minimal increase in storage for the system headwaters,” Robbins said. “This increased storage, while not significant at this time, could prove very beneficial to the system if weather patterns persist.
“In order to avoid confusion, it’s important to note that a 100 cfs decrease will be invisible to the general public seeing releases from Buford Dam,” Robbins said. “We will still be releasing the necessary flows for water supply and system needs, which will be reduced by 100 cfs.
This request is in line with similar requests from GA DNR during previous droughts and requests the Mobile District has approved on the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa rivers system when facing similar drought situations.