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Habersham tour focuses on water
Conservation options to be discussed
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Tour of water supplies
When: 2-5 p.m. Thursday
Sponsor: Soque River Watershed Association, 1418 Washington St., Clarkesville
Cost: Free and open to public
Reservations: Required to visit all tour sites
More info: srwa@windstream.net or call 706-754-9382

Habersham County has seven municipalities and each has its own water utility.

And most people aren’t sure what the facilities are used for or how they save water, said Justin Ellis, executive director of the Soque River Watershed Association.

He will explore water conservation options this week at a free sustainability tour open to the public. The goal is to make resource conservation tangible for all who attend, he said.

“We figured the best way to do that was to make people aware of exactly where the sources of their water are coming from, to be able to see that water body and then talk to utility directors about how they try to manage supply for conservation purposes,” he said.

Attendees will be taken to three locations, starting with the drinking water plants in Cornelia and Clarkesville.

“We’ll get to see how a treatment plant operates, talk about the infrastructure required, the pumping and the storage systems with a major emphasis on the source water itself and the watersheds that provide that source water,” Ellis said.

Then the group will visit the Habersham Mills Lake, which Habersham County officials are currently considering using as a backup water supply. The county pumps its water from Toccoa, a costly process for the government and the consumer, as the water must travel up a steep hill, Ellis said.

The lake could be a viable water option, he believes, as it’s central to the county and could be used by all of the municipalities. As the county turns its focus to the lake, Ellis is hopeful it will mean not only a renewed emphasis on supply but also quality.

Habersham Mills Lake in the last 15 years has probably doubled in the amount of sediment it collected, reducing the capacity of the lake to store water,” he said. “Had Habersham Mills Lake been the water supply reservoir prior to that we probably would have been a lot more concerned with that loss of capacity.”

This tour is the latest in a series of sustainability tours held by the watershed association. The events are normally attended by individuals directly involved with the topic, but Ellis said the water conservation tour is different because a majority of residents are affected by water issues.

“Most people are getting water from a water utility as opposed to a well,” he said. “It probably will be people who get their water from a water utility that will be interested in how to manage it.”

Reservations are currently being taken for the tour. Those who do not register are still invited to attend but will not be able to visit one of the tour sites due to security reasons.

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