Who owns Lake Lanier?

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2016

To the editor:

Who owns Lake Lanier?

The answer is not so simple. The lakebed resides in Greenville County, so South Carolina. Greenville owns the bottom of the lake. Tryon, N.C. owns the rights to the water that flows over the dam and distributes it over its customer base of North Carolina and South Carolina. The private land owners that reside or have vacation homes around the lake are entitled to private use only privileges that include granting permission for any family or friends to use the lake for their boats, jet skis, etc.

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So it looks like Lake Lanier seems to have three owners: Greenville, S.C., Tryon, N.C. and private landowners.

My observations (I have lived on the lake for 26 years) are that all three “owners” are not very good custodians of this area’s primary water source. My understanding is that the Department of Natural Resources (law enforcement) is not even allowed to get the key at the ramp to launch their boat for random safety code violations, registration checks, drunk boaters, speeding, etc. They can only come if the county police ask them to in an emergency situation.

Lake Lanier has the distinction of being exempt from the very laws that govern every other public or private access body of water (I think almost any state?) where gasoline engines are allowed. There are no horsepower restrictions on this water. If you own property here, and can fit your brother’s 22 foot Bass boat with 250 h.p. on the ramp, you can run it flat out all day if you want. No launching fee or any questions. You and your brother can fish all day with no limits or fishing regulations. Right next to the jet skiers and water skiers and various other floating objects.

Seasonal variables and moderate, sensible heads usually prevail as a rule, but I have seen many days that resemble the yachting scene in “Caddyshack.”

Lake Lanier is about 150+/- acres, or about the size of a normal golf course. By comparison, Lake Cooley, S.C. is the primary water source for the Inman/Campobello Water District and is about ten times the size of Lake Lanier (1,500 +/- acres). The public has access during regular hours, for a small fee and parking is provided. Registration and I.D. are checked. There is a horsepower limit of under 10 h.p. with no water skiing, no jet skis, no pontoon boats, 2 mph “no wake” zones, and all the basic laws that should govern a very small body of precious water.

It amazes me that the owners around here came to some special “decree” that because we have all lived here so long and always treated the lake like a toilet … we should just let it go? I never saw a vote.

William Squires
Landrum, S.C.