The city of Gainesville and Hall County have come to an understanding about Glades Reservoir.
County commissioners on Thursday evening approved a joint agreement with the city, which outlines Gainesville’s support for the project as long as it does not require a water rate or fee increase for Gainesville’s water customers.
Gainesville’s City Council approved the measure in a November meeting.
The final approval of the agreement came with some opposition, as two people spoke against going forward.
“Our organization is opposed to the Glades Reservoir project,” said Juliet Cohen, representing the nonprofit Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. “First of all, Glades Reservoir will not provide a single drop of new water supply for this region, or for the Chattahoochee Watershed. All of the water that is dedicated or intended to go into Glades Reservoir is already being captured in Lake Lanier.”
The proposed 850-acre reservoir in the Upper Chattahoochee River Basin of North Hall is expected to add up to an extra 40 million gallons of water to the Northeast Georgia area. The estimated cost to the county is around $130 million.
Cohen also said the projected population growth the county has presented is inaccurate. The agreement between the county and city states the annual average water needs in 50 years will be between 75 million and 80 million gallons per day.
“We believe that the county and the city and state should hold off on pursuing the Glades Reservoir project until we are very close to receiving the final word from the Army Corps of Engineers about how much water metro Atlanta and the North Georgia region will be able to use from the Glades Reservoir project,” Cohen said.
To help pay for the reservoir, Hall County applied for a little more than $14.5 million from the Governor’s Water Supply Program, but is eligible for up to $40 million. A final amount will be negotiated between the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and the Environmental Protection Division.
It’s possible a $70 annual fee will be added to each of the 75,000 taxed parcels of land in the county. Hall officials have said that’s just one financing method being considered.
County resident Bill Brooksher also spoke in opposition Thursday night; he pointed out that Gainesville’s vote on the matter was not unanimous, with Councilwoman Ruth Bruner in opposition.
“As a city of Gainesville and a Hall County resident, I’m concerned about where this is leading us with rates and with our taxes,” he said. “There’s no way you can continue this thing without taxes going up in some way.
“There’s at least a Glades sitting on top of a full pool right there at Lake Lanier,” Brooksher added. “Hadn’t cost us a thing. That’s where we need to be looking.”
The agreement was passed unanimously by the commissioners, with no conversation.
This final resolution was modified slightly by Gainesville, going from stating the city has “reviewed and concurs with Hall County’s application to the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority” to removing the word “concurs.”