Hall County is one step closer to making the Glades Reservoir a reality.
The county has sent a request to the Environmental Protection Division for a needs certification letter - one of the final steps before the county can submit its reservoir application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for final approval.
By issuing a needs certification letter, the EPD will put its seal of approval on the 80 million gallons per day that the county would like to withdraw from the reservoir for its future water supply.
"It's a very significant step, it's a very necessary step," said Hall County Commission Chairman Tom Oliver. "We need to be moving forward."
The letter Oliver sent to the Environmental Protection Division seeks to justify the reasons the county needs to have the ability to withdraw that amount of water.
The reservoir, which is planned on 850 acres in the northeastern part of the county, is slated to meet the water demands for Hall County, the city of Gainesville and Forsyth County for the next 50 years.
In February 2007, Hall County filed an application with the U.S. Corps of Engineers for a permit to build Glades Reservoir. Following the 2009 federal ruling that drastically altered future water allocations from Lake Lanier, Hall County temporarily withdrew its permit application in September 2009.
Since then, county engineers and consultants have gone back to the drawing board to create a reservoir system that will pump water from the Chattahoochee River to increase the reservoir's yield without impacting downstream users. A revised permit application will be submitted to the Corps once the county obtains the EPD's certification.
The timing is especially critical because of the deadlines set out in the 2009 ruling. The judge gave Georgia until July 2012 to either negotiate an agreement over the management of Lake Lanier, have Congress reauthorize the reservoir or revert back to withdrawals that equal those in the mid 1970s.
The Gainesville City Council has already voted to begin work on a water treatment plant for the Cedar Creek Reservoir in anticipation of this worst case scenario.
Another challenge has been discord between Hall County and the city of Gainesville.
City and county staff members have been meeting for weeks to iron out disagreements over the funding of the Glades Reservoir project, which will be connected to the existing Cedar Creek Reservoir. The county assured the Environmental Protection Division that the city and county were confident an agreement would be reached soon.
"Cedar Creek is not an issue," Oliver said. "They just needed to know how critical moving forward with Glades is."
Hall County Administrator Charley Nix said the county has presented the city staff with a business plan that outlines how it plans to fund the reservoir.
"We're making progress," Nix said. "The reason it's taking so long is there's so many details to this."