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Nearly everyone likes to go the the lake whether for fishing, swimming, boating picnicking, or just sightseeing. But often the lake is not at its full level. The water is either higher or lower than when last visited. What makes the lake levels go up and down? Why are changes in some lake levels necessary?

An important function of lake is to store water when there is an abundance, for use when it is scarce such as during a drought. In the Southeast rain falls in nearly every month.  However, the need for water in the Summer and Fall can often exceed the natural supply.

Lake Lanier was built to serve many purposes including hydropower production, flood control, navigation, water quality and supply, recreation and fish & wildlife management. To meet these purposes and the water needs of downstream users Lake Lanier's water level will periodically fluctuate. Sometimes meeting these purposes may require one or more purposes being given a higher priority than the others. 

Management Decision Process

The Water Management Section of the Corps of Engineers meets every Wednesday with representatives from the various areas to exchange information concerning the operation of the river systems and lakes. Water management decisions for the upcoming week are determined using the information obtained at the weekly meeting and a report is prepared that summarizes the conditions in each of the river basins. Operation of the lakes are also guided by use of action zones. The action zones provide guidelines on meeting the project purposes for each lake.