RESPONSES FROM ROB WOODALL, CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS FROM
GEORGIA’S 7TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, TO THE QUESTIONS POSED BY
THE LAKE LANIER ASSOCIATION IN ADVANCE OF ITS ANNUAL MEETING.
1) Judge Magnuson (Tri-States litigation) ruled in July 2009 that Lake Lanier was not
authorized by Congress to provide municipal water supply for Georgia and specifically Atlanta
and environs. He charged Georgia, Florida, and Alabama to resolve the water supply issue and
obtain Congressional authorization within three years. The judge did not rule on recreation as an
authorized purpose for Lake Lanier. Lanier is a $1-2 billion economic engine for north Georgia.
a) Do you support making sure that Lake Lanier is authorized for recreation by the U.S.
Congress? Yes. I believe that Congress should authorize Lake Lanier for the six purposes
that are outlined on the US Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District webpage: flood
control, hydropower, navigation, water quality and supply, recreation, fish and wildlife.
Prior to Judge Magnuson’s decision, the Corps had been operating Lake Lanier for these
purposes for roughly 50 years without major incident, and it should continue to do so in the
b) What steps must be implemented in the Congress in order to ensure that recreation is an
authorized purpose? Judge Magnuson’s ruling raised more questions than it answered in
reference to the authorization of recreation at Lake Lanier. Since Judge Magnuson made
it relatively clear in his ruling that the use of Lake Lanier for a purpose other than
navigation, flood control, and hydropower may be considered an unauthorized purpose,
Congress should officially authorize recreation as a stated purpose of Lake Lanier.
Though Judge Magnuson’s ruling does not specifically address whether the Corps erred in
managing the Lake for recreational purposes, Congress should act to avoid another
potential long and expensive litigation battle in future, and I would be a leader in that
c) How would you influence the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage the ACF system
in order to support high Lake Lanier water levels even in major drought situations? It is not a
question of “if,” but “when” another major drought will affect the Atlanta metro area and
the entire Southeast region. Next time we are faced with such a test, I know that Georgia
will be ready thanks to the water infrastructure changes that were made in the past few
years and Georgia’s commitment to further water conservation and investment.
In the case of Lake Lanier, we must continue on the path that our Congressional delegation
has already begun, namely active and regular consultation with the Corps regarding its
management of Lake Lanier, as well as with the necessary stakeholders in the area. It also
means increasing the overall storage at Lake Lanier so that we can conserve more water
during wet years to compensate for drought years. With more water collected in the ACF
system, it will be easier for the Corps to meet water flow demands downstream in Central
and South Georgia while maintaining adequate water levels in Lake Lanier.
2) The availability of water for future growth in Georgia is a major topic of the Tri-states
negotiations as well as the subject of several Georgia task forces. Some suggestions include
conservation, new reservoirs, inter-basin transfers and other methods. For the past three years,
the Lake Lanier Association has proposed increasing the full pool water level in Lanier for 1071
to 1073 feet above sea level. This additional 2 feet would provide Georgia and downstream
users with a new reservoir for 26-27 billion gallons of useable water storage. This could be
implemented at a relatively low cost, and in a very short time compared to creating a separate
new reservoir. To date the Corps has not agreed to study the implications and costs of raising the
Lake Lanier water level. This proposal will benefit recreation on Lake Lanier as well as water
supply for North Georgia and downstream users.
a) Do you support raising the Lake Lanier full pool water level to 1073 feet above sea level?
I wholeheartedly support increasing the full pool water level at Lake Lanier. As so many
of us were taught by our parents and grandparents, it is essential to save your pennies for a
rainy day. In the case of Lake Lanier, we must save as much water during those rainy days
as we can to offset the dry months, and that means increasing the storage capacity of all
Georgia’s reservoirs, including Lake Lanier. We must face this challenge across the
nation. We need a nationwide effort to increase reservoir storage at both the Federal and
State level from coast to coast. Too much of our water is lost to poor storage techniques
and inadequate reservoirs. This is an easy problem to fix as long as we have the political
wherewithal to support it.
b) What actions will you take to influence the Corps to study the proposal and then to
implement the creation of a new reservoir for North Georgia? The Army Corps of Engineers is
instructed by Congress through the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) as to what
projects and policies it should implement in any given year. Every Member of Congress is
allowed to request certain projects in WRDA. I worked with Congressman Linder for
many years to include Lake Lanier-specific requests in this bill, and I will continue to
provide that leadership as your next Congressman. WRDA will be up for reauthorization
in the next Congress, and should I be elected, I will request that the Corps study an
increase in the full pool water level at Lake Lanier. When the Corps’ study finds that
increasing full pool water levels is as beneficial to Georgia as I think it will be, I will
certainly support the additional Congressional necessary actions to make that a reality.
That said, I would not support any plans to ask the Corps to build a new reservoir in
Georgia. A new Federally-built reservoir would only put the Federal government in charge
of more of Georgia’s water resources. We just don’t need more Federal involvement in this
area. Instead, the State of Georgia should make it a central part of its water supply
strategy to build more state-managed reservoirs. That way Georgians will be in charge of
our own water.