State environmental regulators have given initial approval for a north Georgia reservoir project.
The state is trying to build the Glades Reservoir just above Lake Lanier to help meet the region’s growing water needs.
The state Environmental Protection Division has certified the need for the reservoir.
It would collect water from the Chattahoochee River to serve two north Georgia counties including the city of Gainesville before it reaches Lake Lanier. The state has been taking water illegally from the lake for decades according to a 2009 federal ruling. It recommends the state come up with a water sharing agreement with neighboring states by 2012.
The state should focus on negotiations, says Juliet Cohen with the Chattahoochee River Keeper, rather than building an expensive reservoir just north of the lake.
“It’s mindboggling because at the cost of $355 million the state is willing to build this take off Lake Lanier rather than negotiating an agreement with two other states and move this ball forward,” says Cohen.
Hall County officials say the Glades Reservoir will allow them to secure a local source for water needs.
Linda McGregor with the Environmental Protection Division says the county can now begin the regulatory process which includes sign off from the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The permitting process with the Corps of Engineers is a lengthy and complex one so this letter lets that process move ahead,” says McGregor.
But Cohen says the Corps’ approval could be difficult to get because of the project's impact on Lake Lanier.