1057 and rising

Lanier in catbird seat at 1057

I’m not an expert on the Appalachicola-Flint-Chatahoochee (AFC) river system by any stretch, but I’m a Florida water enthusiast; and as such I try to remain at least conversant in major water issues in play across the state.
Above is a graph showing Lake Lanier’s current stage and discharge out of downstream Woodruff Dam.

Last summer’s big water story in Florida — or should I more correctly say one of them — was the drop in discharge out of Woodruff to under 5,000 cfs.

That’s a high flow rate by south Florida standards.

Over the course of a year (i.e., a full 366 days … don’t forget its a Leap Year) that 5,000 cfs is enough to fill Lake O up from 0 to the 14 ft level, or 3.6 million acre feet.

But it’s small by Apalachicola estuary standards — for the oysters and the sturgeon.

And its a threshold that AFC discharges into Florida dropped down to (and below) for the final half of 2007.

But winter rains have been plentiful: discharges out of Woodruff haven’t touched down below 10,000 cfs since the start of the new year.

Lanier’s still tracking at a 10-year springtime low, despite a 6 foot rise since the end of December, putting it up to around 1057 ft above sea level.

And make no mistake: its still in the catbird seat, both literally and figurately, by merit of being perched at the topographic roof of the watershed and serving as the drinking-water spigot for a thirsty and growing metropolitan Atlanta.

The tri-state stakeholders couldn’t broker a deal among themselves, so the Army Corps of Engineers stepped in and did. The result is a newly proposed regional water plan.

You can read more about it more in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In the article, Stacy Shelton reports that Lake Lanier stage was mistakenly lowered by as much as 2 feet last year as a result of a faulty gage. That wasn’t something I heard about last summer — and speaks volumes (literally and figurately!) to the importance of hydrologic monitoring — and doing it correctly.

Numbers matter!
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