Hall County and the city of Gainesville have had recent discussions about the county application to the Governor’s Water Supply Program and about the Glades Reservoir project, but it’s unclear whether they’re on the same page.
The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority application the county submitted in April contained outdated and misleading material, said Bill Brooksher, who has served on the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s Headwaters Advisory Committee, during public comment time at the Board of Commissioners’ work session Monday. He asked the commission not to take the grant money if it’s awarded.
“You took their worst-case scenario and plugged in a date of 2026 that we’d be out of water,” Brooksher said. “Also, in the same PowerPoint, the page before had projections that ... gave the expected scenario. If you only had those two choices available, certainly you should use that one; it took it much further out.”
A PowerPoint presentation created by Gainesville Public Utilities director Kelly Randall in May 2012 had two slides that forecast the city’s water supply. One was labeled “Planned Scenario” and it took into account the uncertainty that the U.S. Supreme Court would decide to limit access to Lake Lanier. The other was labeled “Expected Scenario,” which showed more supply.
Hall County used the “Planned Scenario” slide to bolster its grant application.
If completed, officials said the 850-acre reservoir in the Upper Chattahoochee River Basin of North Hall could provide 49.8 million gallons of water per day to Northeast Georgia residents, current figures show.
“Take that breather,” Brooksher said. “Come back next year and ask for it.”
The GEFA application states the region will run out of water in 2026. The county is asking for slightly more than $14.5 million.
“Gainesville’s ‘Planned Scenario’ for water use and water supply shows that by 2026 Gainesville/Hall’s water system will run out of capacity to meet maximum monthly water needs,” the GEFA application states.
Ken Rearden, director of Hall County Public Works and Utilities, said the city gave it to the county so that was what was used.
“If you’re going for water supply, why wouldn’t you want to get the most water you can when you can?” Rearden said.
Gainesville is mentioned in the application as supporting the county’s plans to build the reservoir, including taking in the water, treating it and distributing it.
Richard Mecum, Board of Commissioners chairman, said the city and county recently met to discuss Glades, and everyone was supportive.
Commissioner Scott Gibbs said the June 14 meeting with city elected leaders and staff was to agree on population projections and water usage figures in the county application. Gibbs said the county is modifying the application using the city’s numbers. The county had estimated the 2060 population at 644,383 in April, which is less than what it had projected in the past.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan has said the city supports the project. Councilman George Wangemann said one of the city’s goals is to ensure that its water customers, which include most of Hall County, and Gainesville taxpayers don’t bear the financial responsibility for any reservoir or regional water system that takes away the city’s currently identified water requirements.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating the reservoir project and should have a draft environmental impact statement completed this fall.