Lake Lanier drought had lasting effect on economy

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Georgia's drought in 2007-09 severely damaged the economy around Lake Lanier, costing the region millions more than earlier anticipated, according to a recently released report.

The study was commissioned by the non-profit 1071 Coalition. It covered Hall, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Dawson and Lumpkin counties, which border the lake and contain the majority of the businesses and properties most dependent upon it.

"When you aggregate all the numbers, the total negative effect, it's in the $300 million range for one year," Alex Laidlaw, 1071 Coalition president, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If the drought was prolonged in any significant way at those levels, we'd probably see that number climb exponentially."

From 2007 to 2008, annual earnings fell 11.6 percent for commercial marinas on leased land. Annual visits fell by 11 percent, and overnight stays dropped 13 percent.

The drought took its toll on real estate and sales as well.

The property value of boats taxed within the five counties surrounding the lake dropped $389,500, or 10 percent. There also was a 61.7 percent decrease in the number of new boats registered and a 54 percent decrease in the number of arm's-length sales of lakefront properties.

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