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Battle for reservoir continues

Company presents plans to council

POSTED: May 8, 2013 4:00 a.m.

After a back-and-forth round of presentations vying over plans for a reservoir for Dawsonville, two sides have made their case before the city council in open meetings.

Scott Cole, a representative for the Georgia Reservoir Co., gave a public presentation to the Dawsonville City Council during its May 6 regular meeting. This is the second time the council has met with representatives from the Georgia Reservoir Co., the first time during a closed portion of its December meeting.

This presentation comes a month after Lumpkin County resident Rebecca Reeves Carter addressed the council.

Speaking on behalf of the Etowah Hills Corp. during an April 3 meeting, Carter urged the council to consider an alternative to Georgia Reservoir Co.'s proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir.

"[Etowah Hills] is not the ideal plan," she said. "The ideal plan is no reservoir and for no one to lose their homes. But this is an alternative to what has been presented."

Carter said the Etowah Hills Reservoir plan was created in hopes of blocking the Calhoun Creek project, which she claims will displace families living in the area of Hwy. 9 near the Dawson-Lumpkin County line.

Etowah Hills, which she said would serve as an emergency reservoir rather than a regional water supply source, could be built on fewer acres and designed with the least amount of impact on neighboring homes and the environment.

According to Cole, the Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir Project is a proposed reservoir that sits on the Dawson-Lumpkin County line and falls within the city limits of Dawsonville. The reservoir will draw from the Etowah and Chattahoochee river basins.

"This will provide water and support growth for the 400 corridor, one of the fastest growing corridors in the state of Georgia," Cole said. "According to the last U.S. census, the demand for a water source like this is growing. This is one of the fastest growing counties in the state."

In order to draw from one watershed and river basin to another, a special permit is required.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers' Web site, a 404 permit is needed "for certain activities conducted in wetlands or other U.S. waters."

The Calhoun Creek proposal calls for a dam 2,000 feet wide by 230 feet tall and a 450-acre lake.

In comparison, the Etowah Hills dam would be 650 feet wide by 120 feet tall to create a 225-acre lake.

According to Carter, such a large lake will put her and her neighbors' property at risk.

"I've been told [Calhoun Creek Reservoir] won't take my home, but it will be disastrous to my life," she said after the April 3 meeting. "It will affect so many people in Lumpkin and Dawson counties, and a whole lot of people in [the] Auraria [community]."

In contrast to Carters' claim, Cole said in his presentation that this space for the reservoir was "relatively unpopulated."

"This area is approximately 45 different parcels of land with only three or four structures involved that are homes. We have been in talks with the home owners about acquiring their property for some time now."

The city council voted unanimously to apply for a grant through One Georgia that would cover the cost of a feasibility study for the proposed Calhoun Creek reservoir during its April 3 meeting.

In February, Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan announced the city had applied for two surface water withdrawal permits from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

If approved, the permits would allow the city to pull water from the Etowah River and store it in the proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir.

Grogan called the permit applications "the next step in securing a reliable source of water for the residents of Dawsonville well into the future and providing storage for use by our neighbors."

The city of Dawsonville was the first government entity to align with Georgia Reservoir Co. on the project, which also was pitched to officials in Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth counties.



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