Banks Lake community wants draining stopped - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Banks Lake community wants draining stopped

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December 13, 2007

Lakeland - The water level is low at Banks Lake in Lanier County, but it's not because of the drought.

"Its already dropped a foot since last week.  It dropped about two inches over since last night," says James Gyr, a concerned Lakeland resident.

Officials with the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge are draining the lake by six feet to battle weeds and improve the fishing.

But some South Georgians are worried it will affect their water.  "A lot of wells in Lanier and Lowndes County could run dry because it is a large water source over there. About 11 thousand acres," Gyr adds.

And with a primary source of water being rain, that they'll have a hard time filling it back up again. Their fear is echoed across the state.

For the past two years the lake has been drained at Reed Bingham to combat the weeds.  But this year, the water level is so low they don't want to take that gamble.

"Due to the drought situation, it's just a huge gamble and I just don't think we need to gamble with our natural resources this year. We need to protect them," says Park Manager Chet Powell.

Critics believe that's the smartest way to go and want the draining stopped.  "I agree that we need it but not this time of year. It's ridiculous that this time of year, during a drought, to try and lower the level," Gyr says.

And tried again when it's a little wetter.

The Fish and Wildlife Services say they don't expect the project to affect local wells and expect no problems raising the levels in February.

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