As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs arguments in a decades-long dispute over water, a Lake Lanier watchdog group continues to champion increasing the lake level by two feet.
Lake Lanier Association Executive Director Joanna Cloud is using Monday's arguments to draw attention to a plan issued in 2015. The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Stakeholders' Sustainable Water Management Plan recommends increasing Lanier's full pool from 1071 to 1073.
In a media release, Cloud stated that Monday's Supreme Court hearing "highlights the importance of an agreed upon plan to manage the waters of the (ACF River Basin)."
The high court is considering arguments in Florida's lawsuit against Georgia over Georgia's consumption of water in the ACF system, which includes Lanier.
"We want to make sure people understand that's still out there," Cloud said in an interview with AccessWDUN. "That Sustainable Water Management Plan is a consensus-based suggestion for how to operate the system that we think, and others entirely up and down the system feel, would benefit all users on the system."
Increasing Lanier by two feet would add 26 billion gallons of water, increasing the available water in the basin by seven percent, according to the release. While it would be a help, Cloud said it's not a solution to satisfy the demands of all users along the system.
"There's a lot of things that have to happen to ultimately solve the issues, but it's one step toward a solution. Any time we store more water, we have more of an insurance policy on the system for everybody on the system."
And Cloud said raising the level is not a suggestion to withhold water in Lanier during the heat of summer. She said the time to keep the water in the reservoir is during the rainy season when no one downstream is missing it.
"That's the time when we're suggesting to withhold it," Cloud said. "Increase the full pool level of Lake Lanier and give us a new ceiling to be starting with, so that when we do dispatch and when we do get into drought situations in the summertime, that we're starting at a higher point, and we've got more of a cushion there. That cushion would benefit everybody on the entire system."
With no word on when the Supreme Court will offer an opinion on the Georgia-Florida case, Cloud urged association members and government officials to support a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' environmental impact study on the recommendation to raise the lake level.