A draft document detailing the proposed Glades Reservoir’s environmental impact now is slated for a June release instead of February, as earlier projected.
“This schedule change resulted from additional time needed to analyze data affected by the update to the application,” said Russell Wicke, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, in an email last week.
He noted that Hall County “had provided an update to its application reflecting a revised project configuration.”
Originally, county officials said they planned to pump the water from the Chattahoochee River to an existing reservoir in the Oconee River basin. Cedar Creek Reservoir, however, had been at the center of a dispute between officials in Gainesville and the county.
But on Aug. 10, county officials said a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court — which decided to let an appeals court ruling that drinking water was an authorized use of Lake Lanier stand — allowed them to send the water from their proposed reservoir straight to Lanier.
There, the water can be withdrawn and treated by existing plants owned by Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department.
The corps is reviewing a permit application submitted by Hall County in June 2011 for the reservoir. Plans call for it to be on Flat Creek in the Upper Chattahoochee River Basin in North Hall.
If completed, the reservoir is projected to provide 72.5 million gallons of water per day to Northeast Georgia residents.
To “fully evaluate the proposal,” an environmental impact statement will be “prepared to determine the effects of the proposal on the human and natural environment,” according to the corps’ website on the project.
“The current schedule is to publish a draft EIS in the Federal Register during June 2013,” Wicke said. “The schedule is subject to change without notice.”
Sally Bethea, executive director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog group, said last week that her group is “not surprised that the corps needs more time to do the required environmental study.
“The details of this reservoir project keep changing. The only constant is that it’s still an amenity lake to promote real estate development, paid for by taxpayers.”
The corps, which is meeting with local and state officials this week to go over the EIS status, states that it will restart a public review and comment process after the draft is released.
“The public can provide feedback to the agency about gaps in the information provided or the quality of the analysis in the document, as well as impacts the document may not have addressed or measures needed to mitigate any adverse impacts,” according to the corps.
“After comments on the draft EIS have been reviewed and addressed, a final EIS will be prepared and released for public review. The public may submit comments on the final document and comments related to the agency decision.”
According to the corps’ current timetable, the final EIS may be issued late this year and a permit decision is expected in early 2014.