Lake Varner reopens for boating, fishing Friday

COVINGTON - Lake Varner will reopen Friday to boating and fishing.

The lake has been closed to those activities since Nov. 19 due to low water levels caused by the drought.

County officials closed the lake to prevent damage to boats, trailers, towing vehicles or the ramps themselves. On Nov. 23, the lake reached a record low of 691.7 feet. The lake is now at 696 feet, which is still 5.4 feet below full pool, according to Newton County Water Resources Director Karl Kelley.

At the current production rate of 7.69 million gallons per day, that leaves the county with 338 days of water supply, Kelley said.

Recent rainfall has allowed pumping from the Alcovy River to Lake Varner.

Kelley said the county's withdrawal permit requires that a minimum flow of 22 cubic feet per second be maintained in the river and flows in the river have been well above that in the past few weeks.

The lake is also fed by Cornish Creek, but the flow in that creek would require several months to refill the lake. County officials are hoping the lake can reach full pool by May 1, the beginning of the summer water use pattern, he said.

Visitors to Lake Varner are reminded that Alcovy Road is currently closed due to repairs being made to the bridge over Cornish Creek. Hazelbrand and Flat Rock roads are detours to the lake. Detour maps are on the county Web site at www.co.newton.ga.us.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.