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Issue Brief: Glades Reservoir II

March 23, 2010

In a previous post, I laid out the proposed Glades Reservoir’s background and status.  Now I’d like to give you an update on how Glades has become a defined battleground in Hall County’s private water war and the region’s tri-state water war.

In 2000, Hall County completed the Cedar Creek Reservoir water supply project with financial help from a voter approved special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) initiative.  A subsequent agreement between Hall County and the city of Gainesville turned the reservoir’s management and portions of the county’s existing water supply infrastructure to the city.  The county government, however, retained the right to issue a permit that would enable the city to withdraw water from Cedar Creek.  To date, the reservoir is full but there are no water treatment or distribution facilities in place.  As such, Cedar Creek is a “useless pond” and a county park.

So how are Cedar Creek and the proposed Glades reservoir related?  According to Gainesville Times reports, Hall County’s leaders want to scrap the agreement and retain complete control of Cedar Creek.  Then they would deliver water to city and country customers and use the revenue to pay for Glades’ construction.  As previously noted, Hall’s leadership is also lining up potential financial partners and customers in Forsyth and DeKalb counties, and now, apparently Gwinnett.  As such, the Glades project keeps growing in scale and scope.  The reservoir’s proposed capacity has shot up from 4.5 million-gallons-per-day to 100 MGD.  From an engineering standpoint, “huge pumps” on the Chattahoochee River upstream from Lake Lanier would move water into the proposed Glades reservoir, and another pump-system would send the water to Cedar Creek (and into the Oconee-Altamaha river system).  From there, the water would enter an interconnected Hall County and Gainesville distribution system.  Apparently Glades, as a pumped-storage project, will be full most of the time, and this factoid raises the pre-existing question about the reservoir’s original plan to function as an amenity lake.  What is not exactly clear is why Gainesville is balking at this proposal to connect both projects.  Furthermore, how do Alabama and Florida like the prospect of yet another reservoir in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, or of losing water through an interbasin transfer (IBT)?

Debate over who will manage the Cedar Creek and the proposed Glades projects has instigated a family feud, and has placed the real and imagined reservoirs under the magnifying glass.  For two different takes on the how these local skirmishes are connected to the region’s conflict and future, read Gainesville Times op-eds by Ben Emanuel and Kit Dunlap.

Finally, will Hall County’s consultant-gate and questionable county leadership further complicate the Cedar Creek-Glades future?

See also, Issue Brief: Glades Reservoir III

-Chris Manganiello

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