Within the past three days, three rain gauges in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge had recorded rainfall totals between 3.75 inches and nearly 6 inches. On May 24, the swamp was at 118.68 feet above sea level at the refuge headquarters. Tuesday, it reached 119.14 feet with rain still falling.
Lake Lanier isn't as high as it was this time last year, but it is steadily rising as tourists begin returning for its busy spring and summer seasons. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Lake Lanier has rebounded to 1,065.51 feet above sea level, and is expected to climb to 1,066.80 feet by April 21.
The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge had dropped to near record lows because of prolonged drought, but National Weather Service maps showed that five or more inches of rain fell in some areas in and near the Okefenokee.
Recent rains have helped to replenish the water level at Lake Lanier, a main drinking water source and recreation area for metro Atlantans. The Times of Gainesville reports that Lake Lanier's water level is the highest it has been since early November.
State officials have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the amount of water it releases from Lake Lanier, which provides much of the water used in metro Atlanta. They want lower release levels through March 2012.
Authorities say Lake Lanier's water level has dropped below 1,064, setting into motion a new management schedule by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Times of Gainesville reports the corps will release the reservoir's stored water to maintain required flows downstream in the Chattahoochee and the Apalachicola rivers.
Businesses relying on South Georgia rivers are worried about the ongoing drought. Tourism is drying up along with the water running at historic low levels on the Satilla, Suwanee and St. Marys Rivers. One outfitters says, business is better near the coast, where tides boost water levels.
The state senate passed a budget Wednesday that includes two million dollars to study raising the water level of Lake Lanier. Republican Senator Butch Miller is from Gainesville where Lake Lanier sits. He says raising the pool two feet would help the region’s water needs.