The Virginia-based Southern Environmental Law Center is calling for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to declare, as part of an environmental assessment, that Hall County’s proposed Glades Reservoir “is not needed.”
Such a move would protect Flat Creek, and the reservoir “would decrease overall water availability through increased evaporation,” states a report released Thursday.
“And evidence suggests its true purpose may be to create waterfront property for a future development.”
Hall County is seeking a permit from the corps to build the reservoir off Flat Creek in North Hall. If completed, officials say, the reservoir could provide 72.5 million gallons of water per day to Northeast Georgia residents.
A draft document detailing the proposed Glades Reservoir’s environmental impact is slated for a June release, corps officials have said.
In response to the SELC’s report, corps officials in Savannah said only that work on the document, known as an environmental impact statement, “is ongoing, but when it is issued, it will address project need and purpose.”
The advocacy organization’s fifth annual report, “Top 10 Endangered Places” in the South, “targets areas of exceptional scenic, ecological or cultural value that face immediate, potentially irreversible threats.”
Among those listed is metro Atlanta’s water supply.
“Plans for unnecessary reservoirs in the metro Atlanta area threaten to dam a majority of headwater streams, harming downstream communities’ water supplies and damaging aquatic ecosystems,” the report states.
“The persistent growth and sprawl of metro Atlanta has led to reckless and unnecessary plans for water supply reservoirs.”
Numerous proposals ignore “cheaper alternatives, such as using water from ... Lake Lanier.”
Reservoirs “destroy the streams they dam and their surrounding areas, with ripple effects that spread to downstream waterways and communities.”
The Glades project “is at the forefront of these destructive reservoir proposals,” the report states.
It “would result in the loss of 25 miles of streams and 850 acres of the rural farmland to flooding, ruining the beauty of the farm and impacting the waters that supply metro Atlanta.
“This unnecessary project’s true purpose appears to be an amenity for future waterfront homes, funded by the taxpayers of Georgia.”
The SELC had asked the corps last fall to reopen public comment on the environmental impact of Hall’s Glades request, partly because of the county’s adoption of a “new preferred alternative.”
Originally, county officials said they planned to pump the water from the Chattahoochee River to an existing reservoir in the Oconee River basin.
On Aug. 10, county officials said a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court — which decided to let stand an appeals court ruling that drinking water was an authorized use of Lake Lanier — allowed them to send the water from their proposed reservoir straight to Lanier.
The corps denied the SELC’s request in October, saying that “reopening scoping of the (environmental statement) ... would not be appropriate and would unnecessarily prolong the process.”