Hall County is putting pressure on the city of Gainesville to make a decision on the planned Glades Reservoir.
Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver got the board’s blessing Monday to send a letter to Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner telling the city that the commission will move forward with permitting Glades Reservoir in 15 days — with or without them.
The letter offered Gainesville between 40 million and 60 million gallons per day if city officials send a formal letter of intent to buy into the reservoir.
Oliver said the county is ready to move forward with the project and is waiting on a response from Gainesville.
“We look forward to receiving your letter of intent in support of the Glades Reservoir System,” Oliver wrote in the letter. “If a response is not received in 15 days, we will consider that an indication that the City of Gainesville is not interested in reserving capacity in the reservoir.”
Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner, who had not yet received the letter, said the city wants to see a business plan from the county before committing to anything.
“We’re waiting for them to get back to us,” Bruner said. “We wrote a letter asking for the city council and county commissioners to meet together. We wanted them to come up with a business plan to show us how they plan to pay for Glades Farm, and we haven’t heard back.
“We don’t understand really how the county is going to pay for all they want to do with Glades Farm.”
The city and county have been at odds for months over the terms of how to fund the reservoir project, which includes the existing Cedar Creek Reservoir.
Hall officials have said they need Cedar Creek Reservoir so they can sell water to other governments and help pay for the construction of Glades Reservoir as part of a system linked to Cedar Creek.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that Gainesville owns Cedar Creek Reservoir, but Hall County’s sales tax revenues built the reservoir and the county still holds the permit needed to withdraw the water.
County officials have said they aren’t willing to hand over the permit unless the city is willing to give the county ownership of the reservoir.
County Administrator Charley Nix said city and county staff have been in discussions to work out an agreement, but the county wants a commitment from Gainesville to get the ball rolling on Glades Reservoir.
“We all know we need to go forward with the permitting of the Glades Reservoir,” Nix said. “It doesn’t require details at this stage.”
Forsyth County has already committed to buy capacity in the future reservoir as a backup water supply. Hall County is looking for a response from Gainesville before the Environmental Protection Division can approve the size of the reservoir. County officials hope it will yield up to 85 million gallons a day if augmented by water from the Chattahoochee River.
Nix said once the county submits the reservoir application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it will take up to two years after the permit is issued for construction and an additional five to six years for the reservoir to fill up.
“We’re trying to get a sense of urgency,” Nix said.