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Hall County wastewater amendment open for comment
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How to comment

What: Hall County amendment to regional wastewater plan

How to comment: Comments are accepted by email or phone; email or call 404-463-3344

Deadline: Comments must be in by Oct. 8

Hall County plans a public meeting Oct. 17 on its amendment to a regional wastewater plan.

The county has asked the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District to allow it to move up to 2 million gallons of wastewater treatment capacity from a planned reclamation plant in the Glades Farm area to a planned North Oconee wastewater treatment plant. The 30-day public comment period runs until Oct. 8. The commenting period and the planned hearing are not connected.

Kelly Randall, director of the Gainesville Public Utilities Department, said the city will likely comment on the request. Of possible concern is the interbasin transfer, in which the discharge could go into the Oconee River Basin instead of back to the Chattahoochee River Basin, which impacts Lake Lanier.

“If we had a concern, it would be over the interbasin transfer,” he said.

However in the letter that Ken Rearden, county Public Works and Utilities director, wrote to request the amendment, he said it wouldn’t be an interbasin transfer because Hall currently has a water withdrawal permit in the North Oconee Watershed that will ultimately result in the withdrawal of 7.5 million gallons per day.

That permit has been fought over by Gainesville and Hall in their dispute over the ownership of the Cedar Creek Reservoir, a 141-acre lake off Timber Ridge Road in East Hall that was to provide drinking water. Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division is waiting for a resolution before issuing a new permit for the water supply.

The county wants a permit to build the North Oconee Water Reclamation Facility to provide sewer service to the North Hall area, including the Ga. 365 corridor and Gateway Industrial Centre. It’s sought a permit for the past two years for the Oconee plant, which would sit above Cedar Creek, Rearden said.

“We’re obviously pursuing it and we have to acquire certain permits, and part of that is going through this amendment process,” Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton said.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners signed an agreement with Gainesville earlier this week to partner on sewer service for Ga. 365, but the commission also approved continuing to work on the North Hall plant.

The Glades wastewater treatment plant that would sit in the Chattahoochee basin currently is planned for a capacity of 6 million gallons per day. That would go down to 4 million by 2035 if the amendment is approved. The capacity of the North Oconee plant would go from 500,000 gallons to 2 million in about the same timeframe.

Katherine Zitsch, director of the natural resources division of the Atlanta Regional Commission, said it’s a major amendment because it has regional implications. Water that flows from Lake Lanier through the Chattahoochee River to the Gulf of Mexico has been the subject of decades of litigation between Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

ARC is the regional planning and intergovernmental coordination agency and facilitates some outreach through the water planning district.

“If the plant was constructed today with the discharge as proposed, it would be an interbasin transfer,” Zitsch said. “Hall County has a proposal for a future water treatment plant, so in the future it would not be an interbasin transfer.”

The issue depends on when the plant becomes operational, she said. Today it’s water supplied by the city of Gainesville, so it’s coming from Lake Lanier, but it would be discharged in the Oconee Basin. It’s unclear what the timeline would be for the East Hall plant, but a July 25 news release projected completion by April 2015. The news release estimated the plant would cost about $8 million.

Randall said he needs to take a closer look at the documentation Hall supplied the water district and regional commission in order to develop the city’s comments.

Zitsch said there have not been any comments so far. After the comment period ends, the comments will be compiled and a response drafted. A meeting on the amendment is scheduled at ARC offices Dec. 5.

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