By Jeff Waters

jeff.waters@gaflnews.com



Dog fennel, grass and a large, water-filled hole are all that is left of the back half of Peacock Lake just east of Live Oak. The 148-acre lake was once a place for skiers and anglers alike. Now it's drying up fast and grass has already begun to take over.

Peacock Lake is shaped like an hourglass now. There's a pool of water left in the front part of the lake, but the boat ramp is completely dry. Boathouses and docks stretch out into the lakebed, but no water laps at the poles. You can see evidence that a lake was once there. There are homemade anchors, rods and reels and fish bones on what had been the lake bottom. The only living things that are happy with this are the buzzards, which feed on the dying fish.

Frank Ingram, who has lived on the lake all his life, says he has never seen it like this. Ingram remembers his dad telling him that the water drained once years ago, and that he could hear the whooshing sound of the water draining. He remembers his father telling him that the lake started draining at night and was gone by the next day. He says his father used to haul logs across the drained lake.

County Commissioner Billy Maxwell, who lives on the lake, fondly remembered the water shimmering "like diamonds" when moonlight reflected off it.

Now that the lake has dried in the back you can see what could be a sinkhole, plus several smaller holes that are opening up. Sinkholes - often the products of drought - may be the culprit in the massive loss of water.

"We are at a 25 inch rainfall deficit lacking over a two year period," said Suwannee River Water Management District Communications Coordinator Cindy Johnson.

Johnson said the district does not monitor Peacock Lake but that other lakes in the area are showing signs of depletion. The only lake in the area they do monitor is Lowe Lake in Wellborn. "It is the lowest it has been since 2002," says Johnson. White Lake, partially located on the Camp Weed and the Cerveny Conference Center grounds, is also extremely low. Mandi's Chapel used to sit on open water but now sits on a marsh.

Johnson added that drought conditions in Georgia are unrelated to the current situation in the Suwannee River Valley.



The DROUGHT CONTINUES

o The Suwannee River Water

Management District reports

that districtwide 21 of

the last 23 months have had

below-normal rainfall.



o Throughout the district, 32 ground

water monitoring wells have set new

November lows and 12 of those

have set historic lows.



o 128 emergency construction

permits for dry wells have

been issued since April and

11 of those were issued in November.



o A voluntary reduction in water use

remains in effect districtwide.

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