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Russell Creek Reservoir one step closer
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The proposed Russell Creek Reservoir is one step closer to reality, said Brooke Anderson, manager of the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority.

Three of the outstanding issues that were needed to be resolved before getting the 404 permit is now two, he told the board at its Tuesday, Aug. 6, work session.

The authority recently had its Section 7 Consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding endangered species. A Section 7 Consultation determines if a project will jeopardize endangered or threatened species.

Dawson County waters have two threatened speciesAmber Darter and Cherokee Darter and one endangered speciesthe Etowah Darter. The results were good, Anderson said. There was no jeopardy, and so we were able to bring that particular issue to a close.

A 404 permit is issued by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. It is a necessary permit whenever water the Corps has control over is affected. Its the single-most difficult permit to obtain, Anderson said.

The two issues left before the authority can get its 404 permit are a cumulative impact model, which is currently underway, and a request from the Corps of Engineers to create a cumulative, single map outlining the entire Russell Creek project. The reservoir would serve the water needs of Dawson County businessesand residents through 2050.

To create the map, surveyors will need to assess the 136-acre reservoir site.

Anderson told the board the authority had received four bids for the project, and Gaskins Surveyors had the lowest bid of $14,500. With a contingency amount of $2,500, Anderson asked the board to consider approving $17,000 at its voting session Tuesday.

Anderson also recommended that the board approve a water gift for the proposed Rotary Club Splash Pad Water Park.

The splash pad includes a 41-foot non-slippery surface and 21 sprinkler heads. The pad will sprinkle 12.5 gallons of fresh water per minute, using a kid-activated button so water is not wasted.

Anderson estimated the cost to provide water for the splash pad would be about $9,400 a year. He asked the board to consider approving an ongoing gift of $5,000 worth of water each year. I think $5,000 is fair, because youre not just doing it once, board member Deborah Stowers said.

Over time, the authority will be the largest supporter of the project, Anderson said. Were glad to be involved, glad to be a part of it and looking forward to groundbreaking next Memorial Day.

Either the county or some other entity will need to pick up the additional estimated $4,400. Since the splash pad still has to be approved by the Dawson County Board of Commissioners, board member Linda Townley asked if the board should wait to make sure the county approves the splash pad.

Our decision may not hinge the project, Anderson said. But it may hinge what the county does.

Anderson also asked the board to approve a capital-improvement project for the authority.

Weve identified things that need to be done for operations efficiency, Anderson said.

Anderson gave the board a list of items up for improvement.

One of them is to have a state-certified lab on authority property.

One of the things we set a goal for last year for this year is to establish a state-certified lab so we could do our own testing, Anderson said.

Currently, the authority sends items for testing out to the state-certified labs.

To build the lab, Anderson recommended to the board renovating a house now on the authoritys property. The authority used to rent the house out to an employee, but it is now vacant, Anderson said.

Rather than tear it down or do something with the house, he said, wed rather spend a little money renovating the house and turn the kitchen into a certified lab and turn the living room into a training room.

Renovations include replacing floors and repainting the home.

Anderson said treatment systems manager Dolly Pendley would have an office in the home.

Anderson said the lab would be something the plant used daily. The authority has one employee who is a state-certified lab technician; others would be trained.

Im trying to envision this in my head, board member Tony Kellar said. Would a modular be a better option?

The thing is, I want to do something with it, Anderson said. I dont want it to just sit vacant.

Other capital improvements Anderson asked the board to consider are: replacing valves, installing a weir wall in a basin for improved efficiency, landscaping and general maintenance.

The total cost of the improvements would be $127,000. Anderson said the money already has been budgeted. Anderson said all the improvements, if approved, would be completed by the end of the year.

Also at the meeting, Anderson informed the board it will need to begin its long-term monitoring and annual reporting for Lake Allatoona Upper Etowah. The monitoring and reporting are required by the states Environmental Protection Department to keep water and waste water permits.

We dont have a choice; we have to do this, Anderson said.

The cost per year will be about $75,000. The authority will be monitoring five locations throughout the county to test the water flowing through the county for quality and quantity. In addition to three locations along the Etowah to be monitored, one is on Amicalola Creek and one location is on Cochran Creek.

Authority attorney Linda Dunlavy recommended the authority select a service-delivery committee for upcoming negotiations with the City of Dawsonville for water and wastewater service-delivery territories.

The board was expected to vote on these issues at its Aug. 13 voting session. The board had not yet met at press time.