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Details of second reservoir project heard
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The Dawsonville City Council on Monday night heard details of a second proposed reservoir project that straddles the Dawsonville and Lumpkin county lines.

Presented by Scott Cole, an attorney with Hall, Booth, Smith, the Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir project could provide an additional 47.5 million gallons of water per day to the area, according to Cole.

"Hwy. 400 is the fastest growing corridor in the state, and it needs additional water resources," said Cole, who represents the Georgia Reservoir Company (GRC).

If funded, the reservoir could store 10.6 billion gallons of water, according to Cole. The surface area of the reservoir would be 590 acres, with a dam height of 220 feet with minimal impact on streams located north of the project.

While Cole did not mention costs specifically, he referred to land costs and mitigation costs in general, and stated funding for both could come from a combination of public-private partnerships and Gov. Deal's water supply program. He also noted costs may be deferred until after "Section 404 permit is secured." This permit prevents the discharge of dredge or fill material into waters, including wetlands, and is issued by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website.

Cole also did not mention associated construction costs.

Brooke Anderson, general manager at Etowah Water and Sewer, who is working on a separate project known as Russell Creek Reservoir, planned to serve the needs of Dawson County through 2050, said he has concerns about cost.

"I would like to have heard cost estimates," said Anderson. "No numbers whatsoever were presented."

Other costs include running a 4.5-mile pipeline from the Chestatee River to the Calhoun Creek Reservoir for an interbasin transfer of water.

"The Chestatee Creek brings about a 226-square-mile watershed to the project about the same size as Glades reservoir at 245 square miles," said Cole.

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Glades project is an 850-acre project, which would store 11.7 billion gallons of water and is estimated to cost as much as $345 million. Calhoun Creek is slightly smaller, with 10.6 billion gallons.

In a partnership with the City of Dawsonville, Georgia Reservoir Company would have the opportunity to pursue direct state investment in funding the project, and it would also provide an opportunity for Dawsonville to take the lead in water resource management in the region, according to Cole.

"One of the big advantages of the project is that it's close to the Etowah River, about a mile downstream on Calhoun Creek; about three-and-a-half miles from Chattahoochee. The Chestatee River is in the Chattahoochee basin watershed . . . this provides two large sources of water," Cole added.

Another advantage, according to Cole, is the project would have little impact upstream.

The next step is to push the project forward, he said.

"We firmly believe we have the best project in the region to supply water," Cole said. "We think the site provides permitting options that are very beneficial and don't have political aspects. It has a small watershed; buffering of stream is limited; opportunities to do interbasin transfers, and it also looks at mitigating withdrawals from the Etowah River."

Dawsonville City Mayor James Grogran said the city is interested.

"We are continuing the process on a possible reservoir within our area that would serve the region and would serve as a revenue source to the city in the future," said Grogan. "In the event that we needed additional water for the city, it would be available to us through this project."

Last month, the city council voted unanimously to apply for a One Georgia grant that, if approved, would cover the cost of a feasibility study for the proposed Calhoun Creek project.

Also in April, Rebecca Carter of Etowah Hills Reservoir, urged the City Council to look at alternatives to the proposed Calhoun Creek project.

An Etowah Hills dam would be 120 feet high by 650 feet wide and create a 225-acre lake.

Other actions taken by the city council on Monday:

Amended the city's budget to include $5,000 for sidewalk projects;

Refinanced water and sewer bonds through Merchant Capital Group, resulting in an estimated $2 million gross savings, according to Council Member Chris Gaines;

Will make a payment of $200,000 on a loan from United Community Bank resulting in an estimated $56,000 savings over the life of the loan;

No increase in millage rates for city residents