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Planned reservoir could ease water worries in future
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To provide feedback
Residents are invited to offer their views of the proposed Glades Reservoir project. You can respond in two ways:
In writing: Comments may be submitted before Aug. 7 to Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Piedmont Branch, Attn: Mr. Justin Hammonds, 1590 Adamson Parkway, Suite 200 Morrow, GA 30260-1777. Refer to the project name as Glades Reservoir, USACE Project Number 200700388.
In person: A public meeting is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville.

How the reservoir has taken shape over the years
1993: First talks about reservoir take place between Glades Farm, the Hall County Board of Commissioners and the Gainesville City Council.
1998: Hall County files to condemn 1,800 acres of Glades Farm property.
2000: Hall County settles dispute over property with Glade owners. Agreements describing the terms of construction and use are drafted.
2001: Hall County purchases 850 acres of Glades Farm property for $4.3 million
2001-2006: A series of studies take place on the property to determine the damage that could be done to any potential historical or archaeological sites or endangered species.
2006-2007: The state Environmental Protection Division certifies 6.7 million gallons per day could be drawn safely from the reservoir.
2009: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agrees to allow Hall County to file Section 404 Individual Permit application for construction of a reservoir.

Court ruling could leave Gainesville short of water in 3 years 

Our Views: Is Georgia's future down the drain?

Frank Norton Jr. column: Georgia needs a game plan for water solution

A reservoir decades in the making may be crucial for Hall County in light of the recent court ruling on Lake Lanier.

County officials have been working with the Glades Farm landowners since 1993 to form a public-private partnership to build an 850-acre reservoir to serve the county’s growing water needs.

The county has scheduled a public meeting for Aug. 6, one of the final steps before getting federal permission to build the reservoir.

Talk about good timing. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled July 17 that nearly all Georgia’s withdrawals from Lake Lanier are illegal.

Though Gov. Sonny Perdue and many other state politicians are hoping to appeal the decision, Harold Reheis, a consultant for the Glades project and former director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said winning an appeal is not likely to happen.

“It was a very solid decision,” Reheis said. “When you look at the whole thing in context, it gives Georgia a pretty steep hill to climb.”

Reheis said though the judge’s decision is not good for Georgia, it highlights the need for the Glades Reservoir.

“What that means for Glades is we’re going to need it in Hall County sooner than we thought we would,” Reheis said. “Instead of needing Glades in 2040 to get us out to our 2060 needs in Hall County, we may need Glades in 10 years from now to get us to our 2030 needs.”

The Glades Reservoir would generate 6.4 million gallons of water per day. It is planned on 850 acres of undeveloped land in northeastern Hall County, an area known as Glades Farm.

The reservoir will have a normal elevation of 1,180 feet above sea level and feature a 125-foot earthen dam.

The water to fill the reservoir will flow from Flat Creek, which also flows into Lake Lanier. Reheis said it was designed to have minimal impact on Lake Lanier.

Officials plan to use water from the reservoir by releasing it into Lake Lanier and on to a city of Gainesville water intake and treatment plant.

The Glades Reservoir is expected to reduce inflow to Lanier by 0.6 percent, between 0.03 to 0.07 feet.

Reheis said this flow-through augmentation method is “the original plan and the preferred alternative.”

“It’s the most practical and least expensive,” he said.

To do so, Hall County will have to obtain what is called a storage contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Lake Lanier.

However, Reheis said the group may have to look at other options for retrieving water from the new lake.

“My guess is based on this ruling by Judge Magnuson, it will be a long time before the Corps of Engineers is issuing storage contracts,” Reheis said. “My guess is they may want to wait and see what Congress does before they issue even a tiny storage contract.”

Reheis said the other option for removing water is more expensive but may be quicker.

“The backup alternative is you treat this more like a traditional reservoir and you put a pump station somewhere on the Glades Reservoir and pump to a nearby site where you will build a treatment plant and distribute the water from there,” Reheis said. “If you do that, the corps of engineers doesn’t have a say. ... A storage contract is more complex and would almost certainly take a whole lot more time.”

The decision between the two methods must be made before the federal permit is issued, likely within 13 months.

Gainesville and Hall County may also be able to supplement drinking water with water from the Cedar Creek Reservoir, a 143-acre lake built more than a decade ago in East Hall.

The reservoir has yet to be used as a water source because there is no treatment plant to serve it.

Hall County Public Works Director Ken Rearden said the county will meet with Gainesville officials next week to talk about water supply issues.

“I know Gainesville is looking at that in their master plan to possibly start to utilizing that (reservoir) as well,” Rearden said. “There may be an opportunity to expand that reservoir with a minor permit modification for it to yield more water.”

In the future, if the Glades Farm and Cedar Creek reservoirs are used, Rearden said Gainesville and Hall County will likely be able to sustain their water supply, even if the city is reduced to 1970s-era withdrawal amounts from Lake Lanier, as stated in the judge’s decision.

The Cedar Creek Reservoir has an average allocation of 7.3 million gallons per day. Glades Reservoir could produce 6.4 million gallons per day.

In June, Gainesville used 18.5 million gallons of water per day.

Rearden said he expects the comments at the upcoming public meeting will be much more positive following the court decision.
“There may not be so many naysayers,” Rearden said.

Reheis said he expects many at the public meeting will dispute the need for a reservoir and instead champion greater conservation efforts. He said even with aggressive conservation in place, the need for more water is apparent.

“This county to my recollection doubled if not tripled in the last 30 years. It will probably triple again between now and 2050,” Reheis said. “You can’t conserve your way into meeting all your needs.”

Officials estimate that even if all goes according to plan, it will be about seven years before the Glades Reservoir is ready for use.

“This puts us in a really good position first off with water supply in Hall County that we’re this far down the road with a reservoir being permitted,” Rearden said. “With the two reservoirs that we have in place, at least the residents of Gainesville and Hall County will be able to get adequate water supply.”