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Permitting decision on Glades Reservoir scheduled for next fall
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeking comment on plans through Dec. 29
GladesReservoir
Flat Creek flows through bottom land along Glade Farm Road where the proposed Glades Reservoir is to be located.

Glades Reservoir open house

What: Public hearing on proposed Glades Reservoir
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: Hall County Government Center, commission meeting room, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville
More info: www.gladesreservoir.com
Note: 60-day public comment window on draft environmental impact statement runs Oct. 31 to Dec. 29. Submit public comment to Richard.M.Morgan@usace.army.mil

Mark your calendars. A timeline is finally taking shape to determine the fate of the proposed Glades Reservoir in North Hall.

After years of planning and multiple costly delays — Hall County has spent more than $15 million since filing a permitting application in June 2011 — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now a year away from deciding whether the project will come to fruition.

The corps opens a 60-day public comment period on a draft environmental impact statement today and ending Dec. 29.

The impact statement is now scheduled for release in July or August, with a permitting decision to come in October or November.

Hall County Commissioner Scott Gibbs, whose district includes the project site, said the news Friday regarding the corps’ latest timeline for making a permitting decision bodes well for the success of the project.

“I have a lot of confidence because I think it’s justifiable,” he said.

Gibbs said the same priority for the reservoir that existed 20 years ago is even more critical today, adding that a permit is like rezoning land for new development and does not commit the county to a specific construction timeline.

The reservoir will only be built about five years before it’s needed, based on population growth, Gibbs said. 

“What all the critics want to ignore ... it’s just a permit, that’s all it is,” he added. “I don’t know how much more you could talk about it. The whole process ... I can’t wait 20 more years.”

The proposed 850-acre pump-storage reservoir on Flat Creek would inundate 39.2 acres of wetlands and 95,000 linear feet of stream, according to the impact statement.

A 37 million gallon per day intake and pump station would be constructed on the Chattahoochee River, transferring water from the river to the reservoir.

“The water stored in the reservoir would then be released into Flat Creek, flow downstream to Lake Lanier, and be withdrawn at an existing raw water intake operated by the city of Gainesville,” according to the corps.

The impact statement evaluated 13 alternatives that will help meet the region’s projected water supply needs by 2060, including groundwater development, conservation and new allocation of existing resources.

The corps reports it has considered negative impacts the reservoir could impose on downstream flows on the Chattahoochee; Lanier water level and supply capacity; threats to aquatic resources and life; and cultural, infrastructure and economic needs.

If built, for example, the reservoir would adversely impact Chattahoochee flow upstream of Lanier and various pump alternatives to reduce flow loss According to the impact statement. The statement also notes that prime farmland is being used for the project and future agricultural uses will be restricted by the reservoir.

Additionally, new road construction will impact about 28 acres of land, there will be a near-permanent loss of forests, some vegetation and irreversible effects on local waterways and streams.

However, water quality is not expected to worsen.

In fact, “the construction of the Glades Reservoir is shown to have a slight benefit to Lake Lanier water quality, as it slightly increases the volume of water available for waste assimilation in Lake Lanier during both average conditions and critical drought conditions,” the impact statement states.

The corps is currently updating the Water Control Manual for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin, and it is not yet known what level of water withdrawals will be allowed from Lake Lanier going forward.

“Therefore, it is not known whether Hall County’s water supply from Lake Lanier may be increased beyond its current withdrawal level,” the impact statement reports. “The corps recognizes the uncertainty associated with the Lake Lanier allocation assumptions for this DEIS.”

Local resident Bill Brooksher, a frequent critic of the reservoir proposal, said the corps should extend the public comment period into 2016 to allow for more time to review the impact statement.

Brooksher and other opponents, such as the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, believe the reservoir is nothing more than amenity lake for wealthy property owners.

“It’s time for Hall County officials to come clean with the taxpayers footing the bill for this boondoggle,” Brooksher said. “The corps appears ready to fulfill our water needs with a reallocation from Lake Lanier. It makes no sense to reroute the Chattahoochee through Glades to Lake Lanier when the water would naturally flow there anyway, cost free.”

 

Glades Reservoir open house

What: Public hearing on proposed Glades Reservoir

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Hall County Government Center, commission meeting room, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

More info: www.gladesreservoir.com

Note: 60-day public comment window on draft environmental impact statement runs today to Dec. 29. Submit public comment to Richard.M.Morgan@usace.army.milx

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