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Riverkeeper seeks reservoir documents in its opposition
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The Upper Chattachoochee Riverkeeper has requested a number of documents about the proposed Glades Reservoir as it mounts its objection to the project.

The group's general counsel Juliet Cohen said the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper has a lot of issues with the Glades Reservoir.

"We're concerned on a number of levels. We think that instead of building new reservoirs Georgia should engage in a regional water planning process to coordinate water supply needs, and the first thing to do in that matter would be get reauthorization to use Lake Lanier," she said. "We see Glades Reservoir as a tick on Lake Lanier, which already can supply a substantial amount of water for the region. Instead of working through the process of reauthorizing Lake Lanier we have sort of this haphazard or discombobulated process going on all through the region of building new reservoirs."

Since 2009, the Glades Reservoir has shifted in scope from a 6 million gallon a day project to a potentially regional water source that would not only dam Flat Creek but pump water out of the Chattahoochee River for a yield of nearly 100 million gallons per day.

Cohen said the organization submitted a request to Hall County to obtain documents explaining the changes to the Glades Reservoir project. She said the group is considering legal action but has not made any decisions yet.

"We haven't seen the full application. We're definitely on record as being opposed to building this reservoir and we'll just have to make a determination when we see more details as to what action we might take," Cohen said.

Hall County Administrator Charley Nix said some opposition is to be expected when undertaking a large-scale project like Glades Reservoir.

"I really haven't heard anything regarding objections yet from the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. So I have to assume that's some of the reason they are gathering the information," Nix said. "I know there will be challenges with all of this. You have a lot of watchdog groups that certainly with the best of intentions want to make sure that we don't mess with the streams or at least minimally mess with the streams in this entire project. So I'm sure this is just the beginning of a lot of open discussion over that as we move though this Glades project."

In 2009, county officials were ready to submit a permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permission to build the Glades Reservoir and withdraw 6.7 million gallons per day, enough to accommodate future growth in Hall County.

However, the plan was reconsidered after U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled Lake Lanier was not a federally authorized source of drinking water for metro Atlanta, potentially putting Glades Reservoir in the position of becoming a major water supplier if the ruling is upheld.

Hall County plans to build a large intake pump on the Chattahoochee River north of Belton Bridge Road above the Corps of Engineers' jurisdiction to help fill the reservoir.

Originally, the county planned to fill the reservoir by damming Flat Creek. The project will now be what is known as a pump storage reservoir by adding water from the Chattahoochee to increase the capacity more than tenfold.

"This is a big project and we're about to get pretty heavily involved in the mitigation issues in the project," Nix said. "I think that (Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper) just want to get all the information that we have up to this point, and I'm sure they're reviewing from their perspective and will be watching intently."

Cohen said the group hopes to see more detailed plans for the pump storage system when the county resubmits its federal 404 permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"I've been on that part of the river. It's a smaller part of the river and we'll have to see what the flow measurements have been because we're not sure the river can sustain Lake Lanier and Glades Reservoir and still preserve its natural function of serving as a habitat for wildlife and aquatic organisms and being a healthy system," Cohen said.

 

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