GAINESVILLE - The public and the news media attended the very first public input or 'scoping' meeting on the massive Glades Reservoir project Tuesday at Gainesville State College, hosted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Two other meetings are scheduled this week in Alabama and Florida; their purpose, according to Deputy Regulatory Chief David Crosby, is to inform and then get comments on the project.
"We are very interested in finding issues that the Corps may not know about right now so they can be included in the draft EIS and also how significant the public feels about each issue," Crosby said. "We want to study the ones that are the most important to the public and spend more time on those Issues."
According to the Corps presentation, there is an issues laundry list including the effect on air, water and soil quality. Cosby added those comments become part of the Corps Environmental Impact Statement, which largely determines if Hall County gets a permit to build the 850-acre reservoir.
"Each citizen has their own issue," Crosby added. "The biggest issue usually on these type projects is water quantity and water quality in the basin where the water's coming from."
Water quantity is Hall County's issue and the reason it wants to build the reservoir.
"The Applicant believes that the proposed Glades Reservoir water supply project will allow them to have a dependable, locally controlled, and long term water source to meet their future water needs," according to a quote from a Corps news release.
Hall County projects that long-term need through the year 2060. The Glades-Cedar Creek system would yield an estimated 80 million gallons of water per day.
The reservoir is actually a huge storage lake to locate upstream from Lake Lanier on one of its tributaries, Flat Creek. One chart on display indicated Lake Lanier's level could drop three and a half inches during critical drought periods, according to Hall County estimates of the reservoir's impact.
Executive Vice President of the Lake Lanier Association Val Perry said his goal is to keep Lanier full.
"Anything that takes water away from Lanier, I'm not sure we want to support that," Perry said.
Perry said the Association believes raising Lake Lanier's level two feet would equal building another reservoir.
Other Corps meetings this week are set for Wednesday at the Lexington Auburn University Convention Center from 4 to 8 p.m. CST, Auburn, Ala. and Thursday at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve from 4 to 8 p.m. Eastpoint, Fla. The proposed project could potentially affect river basins in eastern Alabama and the Florida panhandle as well as Georgia.
Hall County's water supply project includes: 1) a new pumped-storage reservoir (Glades Reservoir); 2) a raw water intake and pump station at the Chattahoochee River; 3) a pipeline between the Chattahoochee River pump station and the proposed Glades Reservoir; 4) a raw water intake and pump station at the proposed Glades Reservoir, and 5) a pipeline between the Chattahoochee River pump station and the existing Cedar Creek Reservoir.
Water would be pumped from the Chattahoochee River to the existing Cedar Creek Reservoir, located in eastern Hall County, Ga., for treatment and distribution to Hall County customers. Hall County would operate the proposed reservoir as a flow augmentation reservoir. That means that water pumped from it would be used to maintain minimum stream flow levels during periods of low flow in the Chattahoochee River.
The Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would assess the potential social, economic and environmental impacts of the construction and operation of the reservoir raw water conveyances, associated facilities, and rights of way. It will address federal, state, and local requirements, environmental issues concerning the proposed action, and permit reviews.
As the lead federal agency for issuing permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, the Corps of Engineers must evaluate any proposed construction that involves the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to submit comments at the open house meeting via a written form, computer station, or verbally via a court reporter. Comments can also be submitted online at www.gladesreservoir.com or via mail to Attn: Richard Morgan, US Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Division, 100 W. Oglethorpe Ave., Savannah, GA 31401.
The deadline to submit comments for the scoping period is April 17, 2012. Comments received during the scoping period will be recorded in a scoping report and will be considered in development of the draft EIS. The public will have another opportunity to comment on the draft and final EIS documents.