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Official: Corps should change river basin flow

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) -- A regional planning official says she's pressing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to change the way it moves water through the river basin that flows in and out of Lake Lanier.

The Atlanta Regional Commission is pushing the Corps to reconsider its efforts to protect endangered species in the Apalachicola River, says Pat Stevens, chief of environmental planning for the commission. The river forms at the corners of Georgia, Florida and Alabama and flows to the Gulf.

The Corps under most circumstances releases at least 5,000 cubic feet of water per second from a dam in Chattahoochee, Fla., to protect endangered mussels and sturgeon breeding grounds, reports say.

"Our view is we don't think that's going to be sustainable in the long term, multiyear drought," Stevens said. "We've not seen the worst drought yet."

She made the comments during a speech to Hall County business leaders on Tuesday.

She said that conservation efforts in metro Atlanta are better than most areas now. She said per capita water demand has consistently decreased in metro Atlanta since 2006.

However, she said consumption of water from the Flint River for farms in southwest Georgia is straining water supply in the metro Atlanta area.

"Our estimate is, in the last summer, Lanier was drawn down about four feet because (water) wasn't coming from the Flint," Stevens said.

"That's an issue that we're going to have to grapple with," she said.