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Issue Brief: Glades, Cedar, Dawson Updates

September 25, 2010

Given the last few weeks near simultaneous water supply reservoir stories, I thought readers might like to hear about the latest movement, err, developments on two proposed projects I have followed in the past.

Glades Reservoir (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin): Officials from the Hall County Commission and the Gainesville City Council announced on September 7, 2010 – at Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s urging – that they would enter a non-binding mediation process with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to resolve ownership of the under-utilized Cedar Creek Reservoir.  This is an important task since Cedar Creek’s future is tied to the proposed Glades Farm Reservoir on the other side of the county.  (For background on this issue, start here.)  Less than 48 hours after that big announcement, the Gainesville City contingent recommended the official mediation process be pushed off until after the looming 2010 election.  Why?  The composition of the Hall County Commission might change – and the Gainesville City folks want everybody to be on the same page – in January.  Staff-level talks, as opposed to staff and elected official talks, might continue until the official mediation begins in 2011.

What does this talk about talk mean?  That might be buried in this Gainesville Times quote from a week after the announcement: “I would like for us to respect the wishes of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and [EPD] Director [Allen] Barnes and not overcomplicate their request” to begin the mediation process ASAP.  That was Hall County Administrator Charley Nix.  Why have Cagle and Barnes gotten involved in this local water war?  Judge Magnuson’s July 2012 deadline is not that far off, so maybe they are simply trying to move the process along.  And if the mediation waits until January 2011, the Magnuson deadline will be a short 18 months away.  Or, perhaps Georgia’s outgoing Gov. Sonny Perdue would like the Glades and Cedar Creek issue squared away and fully permitted before committing to or announcing a long-overdue tri-state water war agreement at the end of the year/his term?  Heck, maybe everyone is sweating a bit since we might be looking at drought conditions in 2011, as reported in here and here in the Atlanta Journal Constitution?

Update Deux – Dawson Forest (Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa Basin):  This one made it back in the news with all the same players.  The City of Atlanta is apparently considering two separate proposals for a new water supply reservoir.  According to the AJC, one of the proposals originated with the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority, and the second appears to have come from Jerry Daws of Republic Resources.  For general background on the Dawson Forest reservoir and to read about the previous, ill-fated relationship between the two entities now pitching independent proposals, go here.

Oh yeah, that other water war: Todd Stacy, a spokesman for Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, intimated in the same AJC story that Alabama “still opposes the building of any Georgia reservoir” – including Dawson Forest – “that could impede water flowing into” Alabama.

-Chris Manganiello

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