Lanier and Woodruff

Apalachicola’s Lake Lanier — way upstream in northern Georgia — has similarities to south Florida’s Lake Okeechobee.

Both are major water supply for their regions.

Both also comprimise lion share of storage for the interconnected basins of the ACF (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint) and KOE (Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades) drainages. Lanier comprises over 60 percent of storage in ACF drainage, but perched at the top of the watershed, has a relatively small part of the drainage to be replenished by. That’s what made it so suseptible to the recent drought.

Both Okeechobee and Lanier are also at record lows.

Lake Lanier is currently at its all-time record low. Lanier stage is about 12 ft below its 10-year January average, and about 20 ft lower than just 2 years ago in Fall 2005.

Lake Okeechobee is at an all-time January low. Lake Okeechobee’s current level is 5 ft below its 5-year January average, and 2 ft lower than January of last year. All eyes will be on Okeechobee as the winter dry season progresses, especially with the La Nina beckoning drier than normal winter rainfall.

Over the past couple of months, flows were being tapped from Lake Lanier to maintain minimum flows into the downstream Apalachicola estuary via Woodruff Dam. Releases through Woodruff ran at 5000 cfs through most of the second half of 2007, with the majority of that water being tapped from upstream Lanier, until recent rains at the end of 2007 kicked in flows from the downstream tributaries took the burden off of Lanier.

Interestingly, see below how annual flows into Apalachicola Bay (released from Lake Seminole’s Woodruff Dam) peak in the winter and ebb to their low point in the fall.

That’s just the opposite of south Florida’s water cycle, and a good indication that Apalachicola enjoys the continental runoff, whereas South Florida’s Okeechobee is at mercy of summer rains, either directly from the sky or via inflows from the upstream Kissimmee.

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