The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking Georgians and other stakeholders for comment on a controversial north Georgia reservoir.
Hall County wants to build the Glades reservoir just north of Lake Lanier to boost north Georgia’s water supply. New pipelines would draw water from the Chattahoochee River and connect the new reservoir with the existing Cedar Creek reservoir at a cost up to $350 million.
Hall County Commission Chairman Tom Oliver said future generations can decide how to use the stored water -- for instance, pumping it into municipal water systems or letting it flow into Lanier. He said the key now is creating the supply.
“Our goal right now is not to get into the processing of the water but to build a base, and I mean a water basin, so that the water’s available as it’s needed,” Oliver said.
Environmentalists and people downstream worry about reducing the Chattahoochee’s flow too much. And they argue a court ruling giving Georgia access to Lanier as a water supply makes a new reservoir unnecessary.
“This entire application is based on a scenario where Georgia will not have access to Lake Lanier, but for the 1970s levels,” said Juliet Cohen, general counsel for Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. “That whole scenario has been changed with the 11th Circuit reversal.”
Cohen called the idea “premature,” and said Hall County should wait to consider a new reservoir until the Army Corps of Engineers decides on guidelines governing water releases from Lanier.
Oliver said the proposed new reservoir would complement Lanier and necessary to prepare north Georgia for water demands in the future.
Meanwhile, the City of Gainesville has weighed in, objecting to the county’s plan to use the new reservoir in concert with Cedar Creek, which the city controls.
Public comment on the reservoir plan closes April 17.