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Friday October 23rd, 2020 7:38AM

Officials: Lower lake level won't stop some planned events, recreation

By Alyson Shields Reporter
  Contact Editor
Dryer weather conditions and little rainfall towards the end of 2016 impacted a New Year's tradition on Lake Lanier, but it looks like even with the lake below pool, the spring calendar will go on as planned.
 
Olympic Venue Manager Morgan House said there's really only one event that was really impacted by the low levels: the Polar Plunge.
 
Each year, people are invited to jump into the cold waters of Lake Lanier on New Year's Day. House said this year, the event has been postponed and depending on the lake level, may be canceled.
 
"Right now, that's really the main thing that it's impacted, the Polar Bear Plunge. Which is kind of funny, because last year we had to post-pone it because the level was too high. It may actually be canceled this year entirely because it's so low.
 
House said the event could be held as late as February.
 
Other events planned in the spring, like the John Hunter Regatta in March, are still right on schedule.
 
"We still have enough water in the lake to hold that regatta, so the major thing we'll have to change is adjust the course so that it's further east so it can actually fit in to the lake channel," said House. "When you have these big regattas, the athletes have to get on to the water, which means getting on to the docks. The docks right now, the ramps, we have to drop them from the seawall. So you can't access them from that way, so you have to do a much longer walk and walk on some grass and rocks and things just to get on to the docks."
 
In short, it creates some inconveniences, both for the staff and for the rowers.
 
Other events on the calendar are expected to go on as planned.
 
"In 2009, when we had our most severe drought ever, we were still able to hold all of the events," House said. "From that perspective, all of our canoe and kayak events, they're still going to happen. From our new market, which is bringing in private events such as weddings and things like that, it'll be more difficult to book those if the lake is lower, because of the aesthetics."
 
House said he's not worried about seeing less dollar signs when the lake level drops.
 
"It does impact us a little bit, but really not in a major way. All the major regattas are still going to happen, hundreds of thousands of people come up here every year. especially during the summer. It's not going to look as nice but it's still going to work."
 
If you're one of those who still like to brave the lake even when the lake level is low, House said the main thing is to watch for debris in the water.
 
"You don't have to change your plans at all. You just have to be more aware of the possible hazards that are coming up out of the water," House said.
 
"The first thing you have to look for is floating debris. So like today, after a rainstorm and the lake is so low, all the from the north, all the trees start coming down. It could be a huge mass of tree sitting just an inch under the water that you have no idea is there. So you have to really keep an eye out for those types of things.
 
"The second thing is, once it starts getting lower, little islands will pop up here and there. And if you don't see the island, it could just be right under the surface. If you're boating recreationally or paddling, rowing, kayaking, you'd hit it before you even knew you hit it."
 
House also encouraged being more aware of wide turns with the lower lake levels and not taking the turns as sharply.
 
As of Wednesday, the level was at 1060.6, just 10 feet below full pool.
  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: lake lanier, Drought, Lake Lanier Olympic Venue, lake level
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