Dam breach changes color of water along Lake Lanier

Dam breach changes color of water along Lake Lanier

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Neighbors along Lake Lanier say a nearby dam breach has turned their water orange.

The problem came from what used to be Lake Alice.  Its dam broke a week and a half ago when the area received more than 6 inches of rain in one night. Lake Alice, which had been there 80 years, emptied into Lake Lanier.

"I'm sure at least 20 tons of dirt has come in this lake just from the dam break," said Jim Hixson. "On clean-up days, I've gone around the shoreline and picked up batteries, tires, auto parts, bicycles -- even a settling tank."

Visibility in the water is typically about 7 feet. After the dam break, visibility went down to just 2 inches.

Mike Leahy said that he's concerned about letting his family swim in a little ridge cove on the lake.

"My wife came up with the best analogy; she said it looked like pumpkin soup. It was bright, bright orange," Leahy said.

The city of Cumming, Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Division are looking into the problem. The EPD says a lot of material ended up in Lake Lanier.

Leahy hopes they'll clean it up, so the water will be safe.

"I would love somebody to come in and set up a temporary barrier," Leahy said. I understand it's going to be a long term solution -- can't build a dam overnight."

The EPD said it will look into how to remove the pollutants from the water and how to prevent water from spilling into Lake Lanier.

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