Hall County’s proposed Glades Reservoir has morphed quickly from a long-term county project into a solution for regional water worries.
Hall officials are now hoping to get between 50 and 75 million gallons of water from the reservoir per day, a tenfold increase over the original 6.4 million gallon-per-day request.
Last summer, county officials were ready to submit a permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking to remove 6.7 million gallons per day from the Glades Reservoir, enough to aid future growth in Hall County.
However, the plan was reconsidered after U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled in July that water withdrawal is not a congressionally authorized use of Lake Lanier. The ruling gives Georgia three years to stop using the reservoir for water consumption, negotiate another deal with Florida and Alabama or have Congress reauthorize the lake’s use.
With Metro Atlanta’s primary water source in question, lawmakers started scrambling to figure out how to provide water to the massive North Georgia region that relies on Lake Lanier.
Conveniently, Hall County was deep in the process of constructing its own reservoir.
The corps has granted county officials additional time to revise their federal reservoir application and court potential buyers, Hall County Public Information Officer Nikki Young said.
Hall is negotiating with surrounding counties about buying water from the future reservoir.
“We just need to know how much capacity to reserve,” Young said. “The corps will issue us a permit based on demand.”
Forsyth County has offered a verbal commitment and the city of Gainesville likely will buy into the reservoir as well.
“Right now we’re looking at all the options,” Commissioner Ashley Bell said. “I’ve been speaking to folks in DeKalb County and also people in the Atlanta metro area as a whole.”
Just as the dimensions of the reservoir have changed, the key players in the project have also had to adapt.
The original plan for the reservoir called for a partnership between Hall County and the owners of the Glades property, the eponymous wooded tract where the reservoir will be built.
The public-private partnership called for the property owners to fund the initial construction of the dam and recoup their costs from the sale of water, eventually transferring the ownership to Hall County.
Now that the scope of the project has changed, the county is instead looking to other cities and counties for financial backing.
“We’ve worked out a tentative agreement with the Glades (property owners),” Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver said. “We’re taking them out completely.”
Following negotiations, John Vardeman, a spokesman for the Glades camp, said the two parties were are still on good terms.
“The Glades still want what’s best for Hall County,” Vardeman said. “They understand that water is a vital need for this area.”
Hall commissioners recently purchased an additional 105 acres of Glades property, bringing the total up to 850 acres to build the pool at an elevation of 1,180 feet.
“It’s a large project and it’s definitely the key to our future,” Bell said.