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Initial tests of Flowery Branch well remain positive
Development authority moving ahead with land acquisition
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A well that could provide Lake Lanier Islands with all the water the resort would need is nearing the end of the testing phase and, as of now, all signs are positive.

According to Bill Donohue, the executive director for the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority, the well underwent a 72-hour “pumping test” that wrapped up late Saturday.

Sensors will stay in the well until Wednesday to make sure it fills up properly, but so far, so good, Donohue said.

“It will actually be a couple weeks until there’s a final report on the well,” he said. “But, generally, the test went very well. The tests were good. The pumping level and water levels in the well were good.”

Once the physical test of the well is complete, water samples and the testing results will be compiled and a full report will be released.

But, Donohue said, the development authority is moving forward with other aspects of the well in the interim, including land acquisition.

He said the authority hopes to have a purchase contract worked out in December.

In September, the development authority was awarded more than $4.4 million in state “direct investment” to rehabilitate a Flowery Branch well.

The well, if all tests come back positive, would supply the resort with water. In fact, officials have stated the well could provide more than enough and could supplement other local water sources.

The state funding of the project, along with how it may affect Gainesville’s utility revenue, has come under some scrutiny. Officials, however, have maintained the project would be a benefit to the area, including Lake Lanier.

“Because it will draw up ground water and it will go through the Lake Lanier Island system, it will then be discharged through their treatment facility into Lake Lanier,” said Kevin Kelly, water resource division director for the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority — a state agency that allocated the money through Gov. Nathan Deal’s Water Supply Program.

Currently, the resort is getting water through the city of Gainesville. For last fiscal year, the city billed the islands nearly $320,000 for around half a million gallons of water.

Donohue said the development authority is planning on having discussions with local cities to see if a partnership can be worked out with transporting or sharing the water. Those talks, however, have not been scheduled.

Once the development authority, with the help of the finance authority, obtains the land, it will take about six months to design and get permits for the project, Donohue said.

But the project is contingent on a positive test of the well. The governor’s office has said the state would pull the project’s funding if the well is not operational.

Project leaders, however, feel the project will get the final green light once testing wraps up.

“The indications continue to remain very positive,” said Donohue. “We’re moving forward with all the other aspects we can in anticipation.”

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