Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday he believes a state partnership with Hall County on Glades Reservoir is something “that needs to be explored.”
“Obviously, we need to have the support for the state to enter into an agreement of that kind,” he said in a phone interview. “I think that’s why it’s important for people other than just those who live in Hall County to understand the significance of this project. It is regional, but in many respects it is statewide.”
In his comments, Deal was responding to an Oct. 9 letter from Tom Oliver, chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners.
Oliver’s letter, obtained through an open records request, says, “Recognizing the state and regional importance of the project, Hall County is interested in exploring a partnership with the state in the development of the Glades Reservoir, as we believe that the project has great potential for county-state cooperation.”
Hall has been moving the project by itself for years as a way to meet future water needs, except for a time when it talked with Gainesville about figuring Cedar Creek Reservoir into its development plans.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently evaluating the environmental and social impacts of building the 850-acre reservoir.
Plans call for damming up a portion of Flat Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River, to store enough water to provide the county with about 70 million gallons of water a day.
The county would send water from its proposed reservoir straight to Lake Lanier. There, the water can be withdrawn and treated by existing plants owned by Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department. The projected cost of building Glades is $95 million, but has reached as high as $200 million under earlier scenarios.
In an Aug. 23 letter to the corps, Oliver told the corps the county’s plans to release water from the proposed Glades Reservoir into Lake Lanier are meant to add to the allocation of water for the Gainesville Public Utilities Department, not to replace it.
Deal, speaking at the Hall County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 30th annual affiliate member banquet on Oct. 9, said he believed Hall County residents live in the water basin with the “greatest threat,” as he emphasized the importance of reservoirs and water storage.
“We are continuing to work to try and solve the so-called water war,” the governor said.
Alabama, Georgia and Florida have been in a longstanding legal battle over the use of Lake Lanier as a water source for Atlanta. Georgia gained leverage earlier this year when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a lower court ruling that said Lake Lanier could be tapped for drinking water.
“The importance of having storage capacity in the state of Georgia is beneficial not only to downstream users in our state, but it is also beneficial to our neighbors across the borders,” Deal said.
Oliver said he appreciates the state considering the county’s request.
“I think it’s an opportunity for the whole area and possibly the entire state to benefit,” he said. “We’re excited about opportunities to be able to provide additional water sources.”
Oliver said he told commissioners about the letter during an Oct. 9 executive session.
“Everybody is on board. They’re supportive and it’s a credit to them,” he said.
He especially cited efforts by Commissioner Scott Gibbs, whose district would encompass the reservoir. Gibbs, as well as other commissioners, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday night.