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Dawson County eyes new reservoir
Officials say despite proximity, lake would not rival Glades plans
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While Hall County is working to get Glades Reservoir off the ground, another large reservoir may be in the works just down the road.

There are many obstacles to overcome, but talks are under way to build a reservoir on Dawson Forest property - a 10,000 acre-tract in neighboring Dawson County.

The Etowah Water and Sewer Authority, the purveyor of water and sewer services for Dawson County, is hoping to obtain the land now owned by the city of Atlanta and build a reservoir on part of the property; that reservoir could supply as much as 100 million gallons per day.

The city of Atlanta is considering the reservoir, though it is still eyeing the property for an airport and is keeping its options open.

"There is actually a potential for (Dawson Forest) to be used for both or either or neither," said David Bennett, senior policy adviser for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Etowah Water and Sewer Authority General Manager Brooke Anderson said the authority hopes to partner with a private company to fund the estimated $650 million cost of a reservoir, treatment plant and pipelines.

"It's a good opportunity to allow the public sector and the private sector to join and meet the needs of the region," Anderson said.

The project would be similar in scope to the Glades Reservoir, which is planned on 850 acres in the northeastern part of Hall County. Officials are hoping to receive a withdrawal permit for 80 million gallons per day.

The future water source is expected to meet the water demands for Hall County, the city of Gainesville and Forsyth County for the next 50 years.

The two reservoirs have a lot in common and both have the potential to supplement regional water needs, though it is unlikely the reservoirs will ever be in competition.

"The projects lie in different river basins," Anderson said. "Although they may be close in proximity to one another, they do utilize different sources for the water."

Anderson, who has been doing preliminary work on the reservoir project for about 2 1/2 years, said he has not talked with Gainesville or Hall County about how the reservoirs may affect one another.

"I don't know that they're directly related in any obvious way. I don't know that there is any conflict there," Anderson said. "Certainly as both projects move forward, we'll work with the surrounding communities."

Harold Reheis, a former director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and a consultant for the Glades Reservoir, said the Glades Reservoir is much farther along than the reservoir being considered at Dawson Forest. While the Glades Reservoir is waiting on just a nod from the Environmental Protection Division to proceed with its application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Dawson Forest project has yet to be approved by the Atlanta City Council.

"There's a large number of obstacles in its way," Reheis said. "It's going to be a very long lead time."

Bennett said the city recognizes those obstacles - legal challenges, permitting and costs, to name a few.

"It's just going to be a long drawn out process; anything of that scale you would expect to be," Bennett said.
"There's a thousand details out there."