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Activist opposes reservoir
Shoal Creek plan will not go unchallenged
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Dawson County Homeowner’s Association will meet at 9: 30 a.m. Feb. 26 at the Bowen Arts Center, 334 Hwy. 9 North, Dawsonville. Among the topics to be discussed will be the Shoal Creek Reservoir. For more information, visit

Some see a proposed 2,000-acre lake in Dawson County as an excellent solution to North Georgia’s water woes.


Others view the project as an unneeded expense that could be detrimental to surrounding areas.


A representative from a nonprofit environmental group attended last week’s Etowah Water and Sewer Authority meeting to speak his piece on the matter.


“This reservoir will not go unchallenged,” said Joe Cook, director of Coosa River Basin Initiative. “Just a warning, if you get into this project you can expect to spend a lot of money on lawyers.”


Cook said because of the potential for changes in water flow, it will “set off a lot of objections” downstream from Dawson County.


The site for what could one day be Shoal Creek Reservoir is currently owned by the City of Atlanta and lies within Dawson Forest.


The local water authority has been considering using the property for more than two years now.


By partnering with the largest privately-held water company in the United States, American Water, Etowah Water and Sewer Authority plans to purchase the land, then sell treated water to neighboring counties.


It’s an action that authority Chairman Jim King called “a possible regional answer to Judge [Paul] Magnuson’s order.”


In July 2009, the U.S. District Judge ruled that metro Atlanta illegally tapped Lake Lanier — which is fed by the Chattahoochee River — for drinking water.


He gave the region three years to sign a water-sharing deal with Alabama and Florida, which also depend on the river.


Cook acknowledged the ruling at the Feb. 15 authority meeting, but offered other solutions.


“There’s a lot that can be done in metro Atlanta to conserve water and use it more efficiently, and if we did those things we may not need the additional reservoirs,” Cook said.


Another EWSA-initiated reservoir is planned to address future needs for Dawson County alone. During heavy periods of rain, the proposed Russell Creek Reservoir would pump water from the Etowah River into Russell Creek.


Cook said his organization did not object to the Russell Creek Reservoir “because it’s utilizing an already existing reservoir to meet needs.”


Authority board member Linda Townley listened to Cook’s concerns.


“I think some points were good,” Townley said. “However, there are many pros and cons to the whole matter.”