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Barrow County water board studies its own reservoir plan

POSTED: March 1, 2009 12:38 a.m.

WINDER — The Barrow County Water & Sewerage Authority is preparing a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners on how the community’s thirst can be quenched with a new reservoir.

A future water needs study is under way.

Ten possible reservoir sites, from an original 13, were reviewed by Bill Martello of Jordan Jones & Goulding who examined the yield, length of dam required and amount of soil required for construction, as well as other factors.

Martello also researched the number of land parcels which would be required to make the project work as envisioned.

Water Authority Chairman Stan Coley said he had met with Martello for several hours and had a couple of follow-up conversations by phone in preparation for the meeting.

Property acquisition will be costly and disruptive so the fewer number of property owners involved in a project, the better.

"Some were quickly discounted due to the volume of water which would be available," said Coley.

Projections show water needs for Barrow by 2030 will reach 28 million gallons a day, and the target for meeting those needs is an additional 8 MGD. The county currently has the capability to produce and store 19 to 20 MGD.

Martello previously presented those findings Nov. 17 at a stakeholders session attended by all the county’s water producers and providers.

Coley went through the chart to familiarize the authority members with Martello’s findings and discussed one of the obstacles to some projects. He also pointed to positive aspects of others, including an alternate dam site for Rocky Creek that could provide for a partnership opportunity with the city of Winder.

The location of an existing water plant with additional treatment capacity is beneficial, as water from a reservoir on Rocky Creek would allow water to flow downhill to the plant. The proximity to the northwest water service area would also better serve the water needs of that area and Braselton, noted Coley.

"That one site would satisfy all the water needs, and in a location where the need actually is, especially in drought time when Winder has its problem meeting the need," said Coley.

The projections indicate that a 315-day water supply could be stored in that reservoir, which member Chris Cook noted would be bigger than the lake in Fort Yargo State Park.

"This should be a priority site since it would satisfy the need where the need is," said Coley. "This is a significant site to look at."

A point of concern was whether Winder’s existing withdrawal permit would mean the new project could face permit obstacles.

The authority hopes a work session setting with the county commissioners will provide for a forum to share the recommendations which currently do not include cost estimates.

Other members of the water authority board are David Hawthorne, Ron Beacham, Barbara Garland, Truman Philips, Donnie Maxwell and Chris Cook.

"This authority has accomplished a whole lot in the years I’ve been on it but there is still a lot to be accomplished," Beacham said.


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