Buford Dam is the reason that Lake Lanier exists.
Where Can I See Buford Dam?
Head to Buford Dam Park, Lower Overlook Park or West Bank Park for a great view of the front of the dam. Powerhouse Park offers views of the back of the dam.
Water Released From Buford Dam
You can click here to see a chart of the water releases from Buford Dam.
The amount released differs every day. The Corps of Engineers which controls the dam needs to juggle several factors including:
1) Power production
Buford Dam produces hydo-electric power for surrounding counties. Tubes continuously pass water through the dam at a minimun rate of 600 cubic feet per second (CFS). This powers a small, 7.5 megawatt generator. During times of peak demand, water from Lake Lanier passing through Buford Dam can generate an additional 130 megawatts of power from 2 additional generators.
2) Flood control
Buford Dam has done a remarkably good job of this with only two major flooding events on the downstream section since its construction. The most recent flooding event was in 2004, after the remnants of two major hurricanes (Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Ivan) dropped huge amounts of rainfall across the area.
3) Downstream navigation
Water stored in Lanier as well as in other downstream Corps lakes can be periodically released to increase river depths on the lower Chattahoochee River. This allows barges to navigate the river from the Gulf of Mexico to Columbus, Georgia.
4) Fish and wildlife management
With over 39,000 surface acres of water and 18,000 acres of surrounding public lands, Lanier provides beneficial habitat for many game and non-game animal species. This includes deer, ducks, fox, raccoon, bobcat and numerous songbirds.
5) Water Quality and Supply
Several surrounding counties and cities withdraw water daily from the lake. These include Gwinnett , Hall and Forsyth counties as well as the cities of Gainesville, Cumming, and Buford. In total they are allowed to withdraw a maximum of 100 million gallons a day from the lake.
Over 8 million people a year use the lake as their playground. Fifty-seven park areas are operated at Lake Lanier with facilities ranging from boat ramps and picnic areas to full service camp-grounds.
Where Does the Water Come From?
Buford Dam is possible because it harnesses the water of two rivers – the Chattahoochee and the Chestatee, which both start in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.