A new report says Georgia’s historic drought of 2008 took a disastrous toll on the economy of Lake Lanier north of Atlanta.
The non-profit 1071 Coalition” spent $180,000 on the independent study to provide hard data on Lake Lanier’s economic importance to North Georgia.
Recreational spending on the lake brings in the most money to the region. The coalition has been trying to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take recreational use more seriously when managing the water levels. The corps has been managing the federal reservoir for 50 years and the coalition saw the drought as an opportunity to prove what happens when water levels drop.
Researchers found that recreational spending fell by $92 million in 2008, when the lake had dropped 20 feet.
Alex Laidlaw owns several marinas on Lake Lanier and serves as coalition President. He says hard data is crucial to influencing policymakers.
“Clearly we’re going to get it into the hands of the politicians, get it into the hands of the public, so that everybody understands that when the water goes downstream to such a significant effect we’re in absolute danger of losing this whole economic engine that’s up here in north Georgia.”
Changing the lakes’ water management plan will require an act of Congress