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Hall County officials briefed on details of Glades Farm Reservoir

POSTED: April 19, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Hall County officials met with Glades Farm representatives last week at Chateau Elan to discuss plans for a reservoir that has been nearly 16 years in the making.

Glades Farm is the collective name of thousands of acres in the Ga. 365 corridor, the largest contiguous tract of undeveloped land in northeastern Hall County. The land is also scheduled to include two massive developments, Cane Creek and Hagen Creek.

A reservoir is planned on 850 of the property’s 7,000 acres. The proposed lake will be able to supplement drinking water to Gainesville and Hall County.

The heavily wooded tract is largely covered in pine trees, but the reservoir site is centered in a clearing near Glade Farm Road.

With an almost entirely new county Board of Commissioners since the original talks on the reservoir began, Glades representatives held the meeting as a way to provide history and update commissioners on the progress of the reservoir.

Harold Reheis briefed four commissioners and about 20 staff members on the work that had been done to permit and inspect the reservoir site, and what remains to be done before construction could begin. Commissioner Bobby Banks was absent from the meeting.

Reheis, former director of the state Environmental Protection Division and a consultant for the project, said the first discussions between Glades Farm, the Hall commission and Gainesville City Council took place in 1993.

In 2000, intergovernmental agreements describing the terms of construction and use were drafted.

Ken Rearden, Hall County Public Works director, reviewed some of the key points of past intergovernmental agreements regarding the reservoir.

Glades Farm has agreed to pay for the construction of the dam, while Hall County would pay for any stream or wetland mitigation.

Between 2001 and 2006, a series of studies took place on the property to determine the damage that could be done to any potential historical or archaeological sites or endangered species.

The EPD certified between 2006 and 2007 that 6.7 million gallons per day could be drawn safely from the reservoir.

The reservoir will have a normal elevation of 1,180 feet above sea level, about 10 feet higher than Lake Lanier. It will feature a
110-foot dam.

The water to fill the reservoir will flow from Flat Creek. Reheis said it was designed to have minimal impact on Lake Lanier.

The Glades Reservoir is expected to reduce inflow to Lanier by 0.6 percent, between 0.03 to 0.07 feet.

"This is probably not going to be discernible by anybody," Reheis said.

The tri-state water war between Georgia, Florida and Alabama has made it clear that an additional water source will be needed for the area should the Supreme Court be left to decide how much water the region receives from Lanier.

"Communities like ours have got to be proactive and get storage basins ... that are going to help us with future growth," said John Vardeman, a spokesman for the property owners.

The project’s plans now are headed for public hearings.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers soon will issue a public notice with a description of the project and allow 30 to 60 days for public comment.

A permit application for Section 404 of the Clean Water Act has also been submitted, and Reheis expects the permit to be granted by July of 2010.

Responsibility for administering and enforcing Section 404 is shared by the corps and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The corps administers the day-to-day program, including individual permit decisions and jurisdictional determinations; develops policy and guidance; and enforces legal provisions. EPA develops and interprets environmental criteria used in evaluating permit applications.

Reheis estimated the designing and engineering phase will take about one year to complete, followed by two to three years of construction. He projected the reservoir could be complete by 2014 or 2015.

"It’s been really a long time coming and its been a dream from both the standpoint of Hall County and this area as well as the Glades," Vardeman said. "We’ve jumped through a lot of hoops to get where we are today."



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