LAKE LANIER - A business sign along Holiday Road reads, "The lake is back buy a boat."
The body of water to which that sign refers - Lake Sidney Lanier - was less than a quarter of a foot shy of full pool Monday.
It's a welcome change from lake levels this past summer, which crept up slowly following a drought that brought lake levels down to a record low in December 2007. Lanier reached full pool - 1,071 feet above sea level - in October, the first time since fall 2005.
While Lake Lanier is metro Atlanta's largest source for drinking water, it's also a prime source of recreation - the lake draws more than 7.5 million visitors yearly. With lake levels back up, visitors are once again enjoying Lanier's offerings.
Harbor Landing, Lake Lanier Islands Resort's boat rental facility, saw its entire fleet of pontoon, speed and house boats, along with its inner tubes, rented out over the Fourth of July weekend.
The facility averages 14 house boats, 10 pontoon boats, eight speed boats and two 20-passenger pontoon boats in its fleet.
But the number of rentals this weekend came as no surprise. Business at Harbor Landing has been good.
"We've actually done extremely well this year with the rentals. With the lake back up everyone's coming back out onto the lake," said Kyle Titus, Harbor Landing's small boat dock supervisor. "I've actually never seen it this busy, constantly with house boats, it's never been that full. The house boats are selling extremely well."
Harbor Landing's house boats are rented out through August.
During the summer season, the facility rents boats for two-, four- or eight-hour time periods, with eight-passenger pontoon boats starting at $150 for two hours. Ten-passenger house boats are rented at $550 for a 24-hour period during the week and $600 on weekends.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers anticipates Lake Lanier's levels will remain a foot or less below full pool through July.
For more information on Harbor Landing boat rentals, call the resort at 800-840-5253 or visit www.lakelanierislands.com.