Falls Dam are peak-power hydroelectric generating facilities. The other four are fossil-fuel thermoelectric power plants. The six plants have a combined generating capacity of approximately 3.8 million kilowatts. Two fossil-fuel plants near Atlanta discharge nearly 1,000 cfs of cooling water to the river.
As of 1998, 29 public water treatment plants process water withdrawn from rivers and lakes in the Atlanta region and 3 new treatment facilities were proposed for the Atlanta area. The largest water treatment plants in the region are operated by the city of Atlanta (Hemphill & Chattahoochee, design capacity 201 mgd), Dekalb County (Scott Candler, 128 mgd), Gwinnett County (Lake Lanier, 120 mgd), and Atlanta-Fulton County (Atlanta-Fulton County, 90 mgd). The Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier are their main sources of raw water. The total capacity of the public water supply withdrawals from the 14 largest water treatment plants is 770.5 mgd (ARC, 1998). As of the late 1990s, approximately 443 mgd was withdrawn from water sources in the Upper Chattahoochee, primarily from surface water sources (ARC, 1998). During the mid-1970s, water use was estimated at 180 mgd with an increase in demand to 484 mgd fairly accurately projected for the year 2000 (Lium et al., 1979). The Chattahoochee River and Lake Lanier system and the Etowah River and Allatoona Lake system are the most important sources of public water, providing about 85 percent of the region's water supply. As of the late 1990s, residential and commercial water uses accounted for 54 percent and 23 percent of the total water demand, respectively. Government activities accounted for 6 percent and manufacturing uses for only 4 percent; approximately 14 percent could not be accounted for (Kundell and DeMeo, 1999). By the year 2020, regional water demand is expected to increase by approximately 46 percent of the withdrawals ca. 1998. The projected increase in water demand and the limited availability of surface water and groundwater supply sources in northern Georgia are a key factor in the need for regional cooperation to meet the challenges posed by water supply and water quality problems in the Atlanta region (Kundell and DeMeo, 1999).
Water-based recreational activities are abundant all along the Chattahoochee River. The headwaters are popular for trout fishing, camping, and hunting. Lake Sidney Lanier maintains numerous boat launches, campgrounds, marinas, yacht clubs, and cottages. The reach from Buford Dam to Atlanta supports fishing, canoeing, and rafting. The reach between Morgan Falls and Peachtree Creek, one of the most scenic on the river, is the site for an annual raft race that draws thousands of participants and onlookers to the area. West Point Lake, at the base of the Upper Chattahoochee River Basin, is an impoundment created by the construction of West Point Dam in 1974. This lake is widely used for fishing, boating, camping, and swimming.
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