It was a long time coming, but on January 20, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state of Georgia formalized its agreement for several municipalities to withdraw drinking water from Lake Lanier.

“Frankly, we’ve been withdrawing water from the lake ever since it was built – and the river before it – for drinking water,” said Linda MacGregor, director of Gainesville Water Resources. “This agreement authorizes and formalizes what had been outlined in the 2017 Water Control Manual.”

The City of Gainesville has been withdrawing water pursuant to a Relocation Agreement entered into with the Corps of Engineers in exchange for relocating the Riverside Water Treatment Plant when the lake was constructed in the 1950s.

Gainesville is one of several municipalities granted formal access to drinking water. The others are Gwinnett and Forsyth counties and the cities of Buford and Cumming.

Riverside and lakeside treatment plants withdraw water from Lanier and treat it before distributing it to customers. The city also maintains two waste-water treatment plants at Flat Creek and Linwood; water from these facilities is treated and returned to the lake.

“The agreement removed uncertainty about our ability to remove water from the lake to be used as drinking water,” she said. “It gives the State of Georgia permanent rights for these withdrawals.”