The writing was on the wall, but the news stung nonetheless.
When the state Environmental Protection Division announced in late January that Georgia no longer needs the proposed Glades Reservoir in North Hall County to meet the state’s water supply demands through 2050, county officials were left holding the pot.
And it turns out that Gainesville officials had pulled back on their support for the project, leaving the county alone to deal with the fallout.
Changes on the City Council and previous abstentions leaves a 2013 memo in support of the project somewhat obsolete, city officials said.
But more importantly, Councilman Sam Couvillon said, is that Gainesville had to rely on the advice of its consultants.
A letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from King & Spalding LLP, a law firm in Atlanta representing regional water providers, said the 40 million gallons per day Glades could purportedly offer should be supplied directly from Lake Lanier instead.
That's partly because the state's population is not expected to grow as quickly as previously thought.
It's something county officials argue with, but the state is now only considering Glades as additional storage to augment downstream flows on the Chattahoochee River in times of drought.
This shift could be part of a settlement in the decadeslong tri-state water wars with Florida and Alabama over waters in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin, of which Lake Lanier is an integral part.
Couvillon said the city should have communicated with the county about its shifting allegiances.
Stepping back now could save the city money. It's already paid $25,000 to King & Spalding, according to records.
But that's chump change compared with the $16 million the county has invested in the proposed 850-acre reservoir, including the purchase of land and working through a yearslong application process.
The most recent timeline lists a permitting decision by the corps in October or November.
County officials have said they would await this decision before making a choice about whether to pursue the reservoir further.
But Commissioners Scott Gibbs and Jeff Stowe said that any attempt by the state to undervalue the land if it decides to purchase it from the county is unacceptable.