Here is a friendly reminder that you probably should steer clear of the Hooch this weekend.
The flooding in Helen affected the water levels along our stretch of the Chattahoochee. The Buford Dam, which controls the water level on our stretch of the Hooch, is being released 24 hours a day for two weeks by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of the flooding in North Georgia.
This was announced on May 31, so for those who want to play in the Hooch over the weekend, better make other plans.
According to a post published on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake Sidney Lanier Facebook, Lower Pool West park has been closed down to foot and vehicle traffic until dam releases are reduced.
“Rainfall of 6-8 inches from Tropical Storm Alberto that fell in the watershed above Lake Lanier during the last 48 hours has pushed lake levels above 1,073 and an additional rise is expected,” said E. Patrick Robbins, District spokesperson. “We need to begin evacuating water from the lake to get back to the normal 1,071 summer pool.”
Here's what it means.
The dam is at the southern end of Lake Lanier and a 24-hour two-week long dam release is pretty uncommon. When it happens, 7,000 to 9,000 cubic feet of water is released downstream each second.
During that time the Chattahoochee can rise as much as 11 feet in a few minutes.
This means higher water levels, very strong currents, and drowning risk increase along with high bacteria levels in the river.
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The park service told 11Alive only experienced boaters should be on the river and no swimmers.
“Wading and other uses of the river will be impossible at these flows. Only experienced boaters should attempt navigation during this time,” said Robbins. “We advise everyone to be aware of these additional flows and take all necessary safety precautions.”
Lake Lanier should be back to normal in two weeks if there's no more rain.