Lake Lanier dead pool: a media hoax?

(Update: The blog Atlanta Water Shortage seems to have closed its doors. The url is now occupied by the web host and domain name sleazebags at

Due to time constraints imposed by our annoying day gig, we have to keep this brief. The usually reliable and thoughtful Atlanta Water Shortage folks report that Atlanta may have way more usable water than previously thought. AWS–citing a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)–says it may be possible that if and when Lake Lanier drops to dead pool level–the zone below 1035 feet–it will be no big deal.

It’s instructive to read the post’s increasingly contradictory and acrimonious comments, if only to grasp how confusing the situation is and how desperate people are for real information. Maybe AWS’s most puzzling statement–also based on the USACE–is that Atlantans are already drinking water from the lake’s bottom (and it’s pretty good!) and that Lake Lanier really doesn’t have a dead pool, anyway.

AWS’s responses to comments indicate that they believe that the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta’s major daily, is sensationalizing to sell more papers, and that their reporter is a clueless idiot (full disclosure: the clueless part is our addition to AWS’s more measured statement):

The AJC reporter has trouble grasping even simple concepts: The use of barges and pumps only applies to people who get their water FROM THE LAKE ABOVE THE DAM such as Cumming, Gainesville and Gwinnett. The AJC is saying/implying that the river will run dry at the dead pool 1035 ASL and that they will need barges and pumps to supply water to Atlanta. This is totally false.’s hit: Sorry, AWS, but after talking to the USACE, you have no more reliable information then you had before. Especially when the source is an official spokesperson who knows nothing about water quality and has no stake in disseminating information that Atlantans might find disturbing.

Also, while we are not experts on all matters lacustrine, we don’t immediately accept the idea that Lake Lanier is somehow exempt from the natural laws that create dead zones below a certain level in large bodies of water. Hard to ummm…swallow.


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