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Value to the Nation


Value to the Nation: Lakes

USACE manages hundreds of lake and river projects nationwide. USACE personnel work diligently to focus the resources of these lake and river projects to meet a wide variety of purposes including generating power for homes and businesses; supplying water for nearby communities; and providing wonderful recreational get-away spots for camping, fishing, boating, hiking and more. We also strive to be good stewards of the environment in these areas.

A good example is Lake Lanier in Georgia where USACE and others are working hard to balance numerous, often competing goals. This beautiful 39,000-acre lake, which was an Olympic venue in 1996, was created by USACE in the 1950s as part of the development of Buford Dam. The lake and dam meet many needs for the people living in the area. Each year, millions of people visit the 71 recreational areas surrounding Lake Lanier, which include parks, picnic sites, trails, swimming areas, fishing docks, and campsites operated directly by USACE.

Lake Lanier also provides a home for numerous species of fish, wildlife and plants, many of which are threatened or endangered, including the southern bald eagle. USACE rangers regularly present water safety and environmental awareness programs to thousands of school children at the lake. Three hydroelectric power generators at the lake produce 86,000 kilowatts of clean, non-polluting energy, which is enough electricity to supply 25,000 homes. This power is primarily used during peak times when energy demands are high.

Lake Lanier also is the main source of water for drinking, industrial and commercial uses in metropolitan Atlanta. The dam at the lake helps control downstream waterflow on the Chattahoochee River, which enables large boats and commercial barges to safely move goods up and down the river. During times of heavy rainfall, the dam also holds back water, preventing millions of dollars' worth of flood damage and saving lives downstream. Over the years, Lake Lanier has adapted to changing needs and developed into a wonderful resource that provides a wide variety of benefits for the people of Georgia.

As it has at Lake Lanier, USACE personnel work closely with nearby communities, businesses and organizations at all the lakes it manages to try to find the balance among various priorities that is appropriate for that area. We also are working to implement a regional watershed approach that takes into consideration the effect changes at a lake will have on nearby, related water resources such as rivers, wetlands and coasts.

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