Hall County officials traveled to Atlanta Tuesday morning to pitch the Glades Reservoir to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.
Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell, Public Works Director Ken Rearden and Glades consultants Harold Reheis, Pamela Burnett and Brian Rochester made the trip to talk to DeKalb about buying capacity in the future reservoir.
“It went very well,” Bell said. “It was a good first step.”
DeKalb Commissioner Lee May said it is important for the county to plan additional water resources for the future.
“We are in the midst of the water wars, we are deep in the middle of it,” May said. “We will have to look at some alternative mechanisms for us to get our water and I think this is something innovative that we ought to look at.”
May, the chairman of the county’s public works committee, said the panel likely will review the proposal in April and make a recommendation to DeKalb commissioners.
Reheis, who is also a former director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said there are two options for getting the water all the way from northeast Hall to DeKalb.
One method would be to flow water from the future Glades Reservoir down the Chattahoochee through Lake Lanier to Atlanta.
“Certainly the cheapest way to get it there would be to let nature take it,” Reheis said. “Due to the federal court ruling we got last July, that can’t happen at this time.”
Should some congressional action or an interstate agreement with Florida and Alabama allow Lake Lanier to be used for drinking water, that kind of water transfer may be available in the future.
“Right now it cannot be. If we were to do it now, it would have to be through a long series of pipes,” Reheis said. “It would cost a lot of money to build those pipes.”
May said the committee would need to weigh the costs and benefits before making a decision.
“Is it worth the kind of capital investment that it might take to get the water from there to here? We have to do some hard looking at it,” May said. “If Hall County can get it done in a financially viable way for us to participate, that might be the best alternative.”
Hall County already has received a letter of confirmation from Forsyth County to buy 20-40 million gallons per day.
Hall County is in the process of courting other counties to invest in the Glades Reservoir project.
The permit will be issued based on demand, so more counties claiming a need will mean a bigger reservoir.
Bell said he feels strongly that the county will get a commitment from DeKalb.
“Partnering with DeKalb, we can show the need,” Bell said. “A letter of support from them makes a stronger showing.”
The Glades Reservoir is planned on 850 acres in northeast Hall County with an elevation of 1,180 feet. Officials are estimating the reservoir will yield 50-75 million gallon per day, but that figure could go up.
The reservoir will serve as a short-term solution for other counties and a long-term water source for Hall County.
“Hall County is only going to get bigger,” Bell said. “But we don’t need that much water now. That’s why we’re getting these letters of intent to show the need now.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted Hall County officials additional time to revise their federal reservoir application following this summer’s monumental water ruling.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled in July that Lake Lanier was not a federally authorized source of drinking water.
He gave Georgia until July 2012 to make a deal with Florida and Alabama over the lake’s use or risk losing it as the main source of drinking water for most of metro Atlanta.