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Lake Lanier Islands gets favorable well test results
Water quality is good for well, authority head says
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The Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority is moving forward with plans to tap a Flowery Branch well, now that the water source  has gotten favorable test results, including the potential to produce up to 860,000 gallons per day.

“The water quality is good. It meets all the drinking standards currently ... and there are no significant impacts on the Flowery Branch well system,” said Bill Donohue, the authority’s executive director, on Tuesday.

“The report also clearly shows that the chemistry of this water is drastically different than the chemistry of the lake.”

In August, the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority was awarded more than $4.4 million in state money to rehabilitate the well.

The development authority plans to use the money to tap into the well; install, if needed, the infrastructure associated with the transmission of water; and to buy the appropriate property.

The money was allocated through Gov. Nathan Deal’s Water Supply Program, an initiative headed by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority aimed at developing new sources of water to meet future demands in the state.

Deal’s office said the state would pull the project’s funding if the well was not deemed operational.

At its Dec. 14 board meeting, the authority plans to ask its board of directors “for its support of moving forward to the acquisition phase and work with various state agenciesthat will assist us with that,” Donohue said.

The authority, which also plans to work with the finance authority on project costs, has held meetings with Flowery Branch, Buford and Gainesville “to talk about cooperative partnerships for water treatment, water transmission and possibly the sale of excess water,” Donohue said.

“As soon as we finalize those discussions, it will obviously impact the design of the transmission system and whether we need a treatment plant. For example, if Buford is going to treat the water, then we may not build a treatment plant.”

Currently, the resort’s water provider is the city of Gainesville. For last fiscal year, the city billed the islands nearly $320,000 for about half a million gallons of water.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan Jr. couldn’t be reached for comment, but he said in a September interview that losing the account would require some “adjustments” from the city’s side, but it would not affect the bottom line to the extent that the city could not repay loans.

“I also know what the governor and everyone else is trying to do is trying to acquire all the water in the state of Georgia for future growth that they can possibly get their hands on,” he said. “... We’ll just have to absorb it, go on about business.”

Assuming all goes well, the project could take up to 18 months to complete, said Donohue, who, along with Lonice Barrett, the board’s chairman, presented its report to Deal and his chief of staff, Chris Riley, on Monday.

“We think it will meet the current and future needs of the authority and the islands’ operation, and also provide an additional water source that will benefit the region,” he said.

Rochester & Associates of Gainesville served as the lead engineer on the tests. Bill McLemore, who served as state geologist for nearly three decades, wrote the report on the findings, and pumping tests were performed by Grosch Irrigation Co. of Dublin.