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Right for a reservoir?
Shoal Creek proposal could impact communities, darters
2 reservoir pic1
Representatives from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Coosa Rover Basin Initiative and the University of Georgia Conservancy use a seine net to find native species in Shoal Creek, a tributary of the Etowah River where a reservoir is proposed. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Coosa River Basin Initiative representatives said during a recent visit that a proposed reservoir on Shoal Creek in Dawson County could harm several native fish species.


However, proponents for the project argue that potential impact on the fish has not been determined.


“We accept there are Etowah Darters and Cherokee Darters in Shoal Creek,” said Brooke Anderson, general manager of Etowah Water and Sewer Authority. “We do contest that the potential impact on fish has been determined.”


Both the endangered Etowah Darter and the threatened Cherokee Darter can be found only in the Etowah River Basin.


Etowah Water and Sewer Authority is working with several parties to build the reservoir on about 2,000 acres in Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area.


The Shoal Creek Reservoir could generate an estimated 100 million gallons of water per day for Dawson, Forsyth, Cherokee and Pickens counties. Pipes would also run farther south, carrying water to Atlanta.


“What’s been proposed is 100 million gallons a day leaving the Etowah basin and not returning to the Etowah basin and therefore will not be available to those communities that take water from Lake Allatoona,” said Joe Cook, executive director of the initiative.


Cook, who led a Nov. 6 educational hike to the creek, said there are many reasons why Shoal Creek is the wrong answer to Georgia’s water crisis.


“There’s no doubt that we are certainly opposed to the project. We think it’s a bad idea for Shoal Creek,” Cook said.


“We think it’s a bad idea for downstream communities, and we think there is a more cost-effective way for metro Atlanta to get their water.”


The need for an additional drinking water source in the area arose after a ruling by a federal judge that will limit water withdrawals from Lake Lanier.


U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson of Minnesota told Georgia to reach an agreement with Florida and Alabama or persuade Congress to authorize the lake as a water source in three years.