The release of a draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Glades Reservoir has been delayed again.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, additional time is needed to complete hydrology models evaluating the impact of the reservoir on Lake Lanier and other local waterways.
Moreover, cooperating agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, are still reviewing proposed water withdrawals from the Chattahoochee River.
“I think there are a number of things here that should cause a lot of concern for local taxpayers in the county,” said Sally Bethea, executive director of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. “It should cause a great deal of concern to people in the region that the county can’t seem to get all the information together that the Corps needs to evaluate this project.”
The DEIS will “assess the potential social, economic and environmental impacts of the construction and operation of the reservoir ...”
The environmental report has been in the works for over two years.
It was scheduled to be completed and issued for public review and comment this month following a delay last year resulting from the 16-day shutdown of the federal government.
“Currently, we have no proposed release date for the DEIS,” Billy Birdwell, spokesman for the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told The Times in an email.
The latest delay is likely to push back both a final EIS and an ultimate decision on the project, which had been slated for March 2015.
“We do not issue decisions on projects until we complete all steps as outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act and other applicable laws and regulations,” Birdwell said. “In other words, we follow the NEPA process very carefully and completely regardless of how long or short a time it takes. The letter and the spirit of the law require that we do so.”
The proposed 850-acre Glades Reservoir in the Upper Chattahoochee River Basin is projected to add about 40 million gallons per day to the water supply of Northeast Georgia at an estimated $130 million cost to Hall County.
Hall County has spent more than $8 million acquiring land for the reservoir, primarily paying with special purpose local option sales tax revenue.
If approved by the Corps of Engineers, design and construction of the reservoir is expected to take five years.
“The county remains committed to pursuing the 404 permit,” Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton told The Times in an email, referring to a section of the federal Clean Water Act.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority is still negotiating the terms of a contract with Arcadis, a global consulting firm focused on water and infrastructure issues with U.S. headquarters in Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Arcadis was selected in January to provide analysis and research regarding Glades and two other reservoir projects across the state — Indian Creek Reservoir in Carroll County and Richland Creek Reservoir in Paulding County — as part of the Governor’s Water Supply Program.
“This reservoir continues to be an amenity lake masquerading as a water supply reservoir,” Bethea said. “And anyone who thinks anything different is just not looking at the facts.”