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More consultants pulled in for Glades Reservoir project
State hiring firm to help with water supply program
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The wheels keep slowly turning on the proposed Glades Reservoir in North Hall County with the addition of a new round of consultants charged with evaluating the state’s interest in the project. 

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority announced late Wednesday the environmental consulting firm Arcadis has been preliminarily selected to provide analysis and research regarding Glades and two other reservoir projects across the state — Indian Creek Reservoir in Carroll County and Richland Creek Reservoir in Paulding County — as part of the Governor’s Water Supply Program.

“We are only announcing that Arcadis was the highest-ranked firm in the evaluation and is therefore the ‘apparent’ awardee,” Richard Sawyer, GEFA consultant/selection manager, told The Times in an email. “What this means for the process is that we will undergo negotiations with Arcadis, but as the (request for qualifications) prescribes, if an agreement with Arcadis cannot be reached for any reason, we may choose to negotiate with the next highest-ranking firm, and so on, until an agreement is reached. Final award will be established once there is a successful negotiation and executed contract.”

Details about how much the consulting contract will cost Georgia taxpayers will not be known until negotiations with Arcadis are complete.

The announcement of new consulting services related to Glades comes on the heels of a delayed final environmental impact statement, which is now scheduled for completion sometime late this year, with a decision on whether the project will proceed likely to come in March 2015.

Glades, a proposed 850-acre reservoir in the Upper Chattahoochee River Basin, is projected to add about 40 million gallons to the water supply of Northeast Georgia at an estimated $130 million cost to Hall County.

Glades is eligible for up to $40 million in funding from the governor’s program, and Hall County has applied for about $14.5 million in direct investment.

Arcadis is a global consulting firm focused on water and infrastructure issues with U.S. headquarters in Highlands Ranch, Colo. Representatives from the firm declined to comment.

According to the GEFA request for qualifications, Arcadis “will validate existing information for the projects, and the associated impacts, submitted to the state. This may include validation of the state’s modeling associated with the projects, reservoir operational alternatives analysis and guidance on reservoir permitting considerations for the projects.”

Moreover, the firm will be tasked with reviewing existing data about the purported impact Glades will have on the water supply and affected rivers and streams. In addition, it will likely spearhead the drafting of language for intergovernmental agreements should the project get the green light.

“We don’t understand why more consultants are needed since the state has already selected the projects that it wants to fund,” said Sally Bethea, executive director of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy organization. “So this seems like a redundant exercise funded with taxpayer dollars and only a vague explanation of what the consultant is going to be doing.”