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Hall officials say water restrictions are slowing new developments

POSTED: May 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.
A drought response resolution passed by the Gainesville City Council last November is now causing new development in Hall County to slow to a trickle, county officials say.

In response to state recommendations, Gainesville council members passed a resolution making water unavailable for new development until the drought situation improves and the state loosens its water-use restrictions.

Since Gainesville is the primary water provider in the county, Hall County developments are subject to city water restrictions.

Tom Oliver, county commission chairman, said the commission wanted more insight into the resolution because a developer had plans to build a supermarket on Ga. 365, but ran into snags regarding city water service.

"You can come to us and get rezoned, but you can’t get a water meter from the city of Gainesville," Oliver said. "With the drought and the recession, it’s having a great effect on development."

Gainesville Public Utilities
Director Kelly Randall addressed the commission during a work session Monday at the request of county Commissioner Billy Powell.

Randall explained that before November, Hall County and Gainesville were jointly permitted to use 35 million gallons of water on a peak day, but were relegated to using only 15.82 million gallons of water per day as a result of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s mandate.

"If we committed water service to another development, we’d literally be committing to water service Hall County is not permitted to draw," Randall said.

"We realize this is a real economic issue. We are very much bound by the state permits we’re under," he told the commission.

Randall said that builders who obtained a letter of availability for water on or before Nov. 6 are entitled to a water meter.

But if the builder did not obtain a letter of availability, the development could only operate on a public sewer system that recharges water into the Chattahoochee basin.

Oliver said the constraints still allow builders to drill a well for water access, but prohibits new developments from utilizing a Gainesville water meter unless it operates on public sewer.

He added that the slump in development within the county resulting from the water restriction is likely just a temporary one.

"As the lake fills up, I think this will be adjusted," Oliver said.

Also in the work session, Randall discussed the possibility of the county joining the city in efforts to expand sewer service along Ga. 365.



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