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Hall to pay costs for reservoir permitting
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted at its Monday work session to pay for the permitting expenses of the Glades Farm Reservoir.

Assistant County Administrator Phil Sutton told the commission the county is being asked to pay for two expenses — providing public information about the reservoir, a requirement for obtaining the permit and for consulting work for the environmental mitigation.

The total cost for both is about $42,000 and will come from SPLOST VI.

The six-year special purpose local option sales tax was approved in March and allotted $53 million for water and sewer projects, including the reservoir.

The commission voted 3-1 to put the expenses on the consent agenda for Thursday’s board meeting. Commissioner Billy Powell voted against it and Chairman Tom Oliver was not present.

The Glades Farm Reservoir will be built through a public-private partnership of Hall County and the Glades Farm property owners.

"The tasks involved in requiring the permit are the responsibility of Hall County," Sutton said. "Hall County owns the reservoir itself."

The bills for the services came from Morton Vardeman & Carlson and Eco-South Inc. and were received by Glades Farm representative Carl Nichols of Nichols Land & Investment Co.

"They were the ones that began the process," Sutton said. "It’s sort of passing the baton."

Powell said he did not agree with the county accepting the costs.

"I don’t mind paying expenses going forward," Powell said. "I don’t like paying expenses someone else incurred."

Hall County Public Information Officer Nikki Young said it is possible there will be additional expenses in the future.

"We will have to go through the public hearing process again if we significantly amend our Glades permit application," said Young. "However, that does not necessarily mean we will incur the same (public information) costs."

The county was granted a 120-day extension on the permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in order to perform studies and assess the possibility of increasing the yield from the reservoir in light of the recent ruling on Lake Lanier.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled in July that water withdrawal is not a congressionally authorized use of the lake.

Magnuson’s ruling gives Georgia three years to stop using the reservoir for water consumption, negotiate with Florida and Alabama over the lake’s use or have Congress reauthorize the lake to allow water withdrawals.

Original estimates were for a water yield of 6.4 million gallons per day from the Glades reservoir, but studies are being conducted that the county hopes will show that a much larger water supply may be available from the 850-acre reservoir planned in North Hall.