The Chattahoochee River will be unsafe for swimmers and boaters for the nextx two weeks, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Officials: ‘Unsafe’ to boat, swim in Chattahoochee; Lake Lanier safe

Correction: Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers clarified Lake Lanier is safe to swimmers and boaters during the two-week water release period. A previous version of this story said the lake was unsafe to swimmers and boaters. 

Update: It’s unsafe to swim or boat in the Chattahoochee River due to high water levels, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Recent heavy rains have raised Lake Lanier over its full pool elevation of 1,071 feet, and the levels are expected to rise with more forecasted precipitation, according to an Army Corps release. The corps must release water out of Buford Dam into the Chattahoochee River 24 hours a day for two weeks. That started the afternoon of Wednesday, May 30, according to a news release.

READ | Gwinnett County pools: Where and when to swim this summer

The water release will cause the Chattahoochee River to flow at speeds that would make it "impossible" for recreational swimming, according to the corps. 

“Wading and other uses of the river will be impossible at these flows. Only experienced boaters should attempt navigation during this time,” said E. Patrick Robbins, a spokesman for the Mobile District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The water release could also raise bacteria levels to “unsafe” amounts in the river, according to a Facebook post from the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. 

Boating and swimming are “not advised” for the next two weeks, the post says. The recreation area’s 84 miles of trails will remain open. Lake Lanier continues to welcome boaters and swimmers to its facilities.

“Boaters should take caution navigating the waters as always, but the water level and quality remains good at Lake Lanier,” said Darby Campbell, president of Safe Harbor Development, LLC, a partner of Lanier Islands. “Margaritaville at Lanier Islands, which includes LandShark Bar & Grill and Paradise Beach, with multiple dining and entertainment venues, are all open and ready to welcome visitors.” 

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University of Georgia students Noelle Lashley and Charlotte Norsworthy drive a pontoon boat across Lake Lanier. Also in this 360 video, hear from Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, on how water level decreases at Lake Lanier impact the state of Georgia and metro Atlanta. (Noelle Lashley, Charlotte Norsworthy and Savannah Peat/University of Georgia)

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