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Is the Georgia Drought Ending?

With all this December rain, Lake Lanier is rapidly gaining much needed water supplies. Today there are flood watches up for many Georgia counties and the heavy rainfall is definitely helping out. Is this is a genuine recovery of water levels – or is it a short term blip that will be forgotten when everything dries out again. Are we looking at the start of a new weather pattern for Georgia and the return to more rain?

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47 Responses to “Is the Georgia Drought Ending?”

  1. Dipchip Says:

    Who is willing to predict the LL water level at Midnight the 9th of Jan?
    With more than 5 inches in the watershed so far this month and more on the way.
    By 10 AM today the level will be up 3 foot this month.

  2. Dipchip Says:

    Correction: By 10 AM today the level will be up 3 foot in the past 28 days.

  3. RichS Says:

    Unfortunately we have two issues. Even if we get to a point this winter that we can say the drought is over, there is no chance that lake Lanier will refill completely. Downstream interests have long ago recovered from the drought. The demands they made on Lanier will be affecting North Georgia for years to come though.

  4. Water We Waiting For? Says:

    Well, I guess the answer to the question depends on what the definition of “drought” is.

    Also, the name of this blog is “Atlanta Water SHORTAGE,” not “Atlanta Water DROUGHT,” so, even if LL and all other reservoirs fill, do we still have too many people for the current water supply (not to mention too little water for the hordes who continue to stream in)?

    That’s why the discussion should probably start with some analyses of carrying capacity.

  5. dreidson Says:

    I’d say the drought is over, at least with regards to Atlanta. We received roughly 90% of normal annual rainfall for 2008, the water tables have returned to normal, and we seem to have returned to a patern of water from the gulf moving northeast and dumping rain on us. I’d say the drought is close to being over for Northeast Georgia and the adjacent regions of North and South Carolina as well. Still not back to normal, but pretty close to it.

    While Lanier still has a lot of capacity, I wouldn’t consider the fact that our reservoir is still down to be an indicator that we’re still in a drought if the tributaries have returned to their normal flow. At any rate, I think I can take emminent disruption of drinking water supplies off my list of things to worry about.

    As far as Waterwewaitingfor’s comments, we have more than adequate source of water for our population. We’ve just withstood the worst drought in 100 years and adequate sources of water would never have been an issue had the ACOE not released 2 extra feet of water out of the reservoir due to an error, not to mention having a faulty strategy about releasing water downstream. Southern California and Arizona have capacity issues. Atlanta has an average rainfall of 50 inches a year to start with and an abundance of reservoirs upstream.

  6. Chris Says:

    To follow up on dreidson’s comment, the response to the water shortage shows that when faced with major issues, it *is* possible for governments and citizens alike to respond and face down these issues. I still miss the watering restrictions, but we did for the most part pull together and cut down overall usage, and in many ways that will last beyond the near-term crisis, such as low-flow toilet installations, no-flow urinals in many public restrooms, supply leak repairs, the new release standards, etc. This will 1. help the lake refill faster, and 2. put the are in a much better position should December/January prove to be an aberration in a much longer era of reduced rainfall.

  7. Chris Says:

    Also, anyone know if the new reservoir in Cherokee county is officially in service yet? I knew that a lawsuit was filed right after its completion, but haven’t heard as to whether or not that actually has stalled its use.

  8. Chicken Little Says:


  9. Walter Says:

    It won’t necessarily take “years” to refill the lake – especially with the new ACOE policies that have been approved. In the 2003 water year, the lake rose 9′. See http://water.sam.usace.army.mil/gage/acf/prob1-03.txt

    While that is probably atypical and while I’m not suggesting it will happen this year, it shows that anything is possible. Don’t forget the recent article that the lake could be refilled with 10% above normal rainfall for one year.

    Last year, the lake rose 6′ from January to May. With the reduced outflows that the various governmental agencies put in place this year, I can see that happening again in 2009 – or an even larger increase between now and 5/1. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

  10. Don Says:

    Just when it has become a pleasure to return and read this blog……chicken air head speaks. To everyone else, looking good!

  11. dreidson Says:

    Question for the day – how close were we to actually running out of water in Lake Lanier. I don’t know how to find this answer, but I know the “media” version of us being down to 80 days or so was bogus. So here’s the question – how many gallons of water are in Lanier at full pool, and how man gallons of water are there at current elevation?

  12. Dipchip Says:

    There are 325,000 gallons in an acre foot.
    Lake L is now at 1,385,000 acre feet.
    so it now holds 451 billion gallons 451,000,000,000

  13. dreidson Says:

    And what is the capacity in acre feet?

    One other interesting observation from historical records, when the lake is at historically low levels, it generally fills up very quickly when it starts filling up. In October 86, its previously low before this current drought, the level came up from just under 1055 feet to 1071 feet in a matter of just six months. In 2002, it went from 1061.17 to 1071.75 in four months and ten days. Once the weather pattern changes after a drought, it really fills up quickly.

  14. Chicken Little 2 Says:

    Yo, Chick, stick it where the sun don’t shine! Ya should go to Chick-Fil-A and I”ll eat ya up, dawg!! Over and Out! Keep up the reports, Bros! Learning a bunch! Leroy Jones II

  15. Chicken Little 2 Says:

    An acre-foot is the volume of water that would cover 1 acre to a depth of 1 foot; 43,560 cubic feet or 1233.5 cubic meters. Gawk!!

  16. Chicken Little 2 Says:

    Betcha that Lil Chick didn’t no dat! Boy, I luv being so, so smart. Went ta Morehouse College. Gotta a B.A.. Dat means ‘Brother on Acid’ I luv readin me Penthouse. Up and In!

  17. The Real Chicken Little Says:



  18. Dipchip Says:

    Being well into my seventies, I started chopping chicken heads for Sunday dinner when I was about 11. My Mother always bought 500 baby chicks each spring for egg sales and Sunday dinner. Grab both legs wings and tail lay their head on chopping block and 1 whack with a corn knife and let them bleed off. Then drop them into a bucket of boiling water and rub off the feathers and pull all the pin feathers.

    Now days I only keep a few and enjoy their cackling and the occasional crowing. They still lay an egg now and then. Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same.

  19. Dipchip Says:

    Well I found the acre foot capacity: 2,554,000 acre feet or 832 billion gallons.

    That means it is now at 55 % capacity. 1,404,000 acre feet.

  20. dreidson Says:

    Interesting, so at its low point, it was probably 50% capacity, which means we were never really in any danger of running out of water, so much as having our existing intake valves too high. Despite the depth of over 1000 feet, the majority of the lake is less than 30 feet depth. At any rate, great to see the depth jump overnight again. We’re probably looking at another 6 inch rise today as the tributaries continue to inflow.

  21. RichS Says:

    dreidson – I think you are mistaking the altitude above sea level for lake depth. The max depth of the lake is 160 ft per wikipedia. The lowest point of the lake is way above sea level.

  22. Chicken Little Says:

    Sure, you all MOCK ME, but I’m the only one here that has been consistently saying Lake Lanier would not run out of water.

    bee to the gee to the dubya aye kay!


  23. dreidson Says:

    holy crap, Rich S. I thought the mountain lakes were just deeper because of the gradient of the shores. Not one of my prouder moments of intellectual prowess.

  24. RichS Says:

    Lol dreidson. I think a lot of people probably make that same mistake.

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    According to the State Climatologist Stooksberry the drought will be even worse next year. The rain did help but the deficit was 32 inches and we are up to 30.

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