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Hall commission talks about bringing new reservoir on line
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The water in Lake Lanier may be emptying, but the county is full of ideas for how to deal with the most severe drought seen by the region in decades.

Thursday afternoon, the Hall County Board of Commissioners discussed bringing the Cedar Creek Reservoir online.

"This could provide anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of the future water needs of this county," commission Chairman Tom Oliver said. "I think that’s significant, and I think that’s the direction this county needs to go."

The reservoir was approved by voters as a sales tax project in 1994. It cost $20 million to build and encompasses about 124 acres in the Oconee Basin.

Oliver said one option would be to build a water treatment plant at the reservoir. Another would be for the county to construct a pipeline running to Gainesville’s Lakeside Water Treatment Facility.

"We need to create plans and put them in place," he said.

Also in regard to water conservation, Commissioner Bobby Banks suggested that, over the next month, the county look into putting a moratorium on all new developments, "maybe for 90 days until we find out what’s going to happen with the lake."

Lake Lanier is at its lowest point since 1986.

Commissioner Steve Gailey said though there haven’t been many developments currently coming through, the county needs to look at changing some of the rules to ensure people use conservation methods, such as low-flow toilets or reuse water, in their projects.

"There’s all kinds of things that can be done to conserve," he said.

In addition to the drought discussion, Banks updated the commission on the Spout Springs Road widening project.

The project was slated to be considered by the Georgia Department of Transportation in 2020. But with such rapid growth in the area, South Hall residents and officials have repeatedly said that the work needs to completed sooner to accommodate additional traffic.

Banks read a letter written to the commissioners from Georgia DOT Commissioner Harold E. Linnenkohl committing to add the project to its construction work program and add the road to its state route system as a "temporary state route."

The designation would allow federal funds to be used for right of way acquisition.

"That’s a step in the right direction for Spout Springs," Banks said.

Hall County has already committed $1 million to the project, and will be responsible for the design in accordance with federal regulations.

The DOT will fund construction of the project using federal and state funds.

However, Linnenkohl states in the letter, "All funding years by the Georgia Department of Transportation will be subject to available funding."

After the meeting, Banks said he hopes to have the project under way by 2010.

"It will be sooner than we first anticipated," he said. "At least we’ve got a commitment to do it."

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