GAINESVILLE - Gainesville City Council Tuesday night heard from opponents and then unanimously voted to table a resolution calling for support and cooperation with Hall County on developing the Glades Farm Reservoir.
One of those opponents was Sally Bethea from Atlanta, Executive Director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, an environmental group whose mission is river preservation. She called the Glades project an expensive 'pig in a poke'.
"Glades Reservoir is a big problem I think for the river and for local taxpayers, and so we're going to continue speaking with City Council members and everyone about the fact that this is a 'boondoggle' project we just don't need," Bethea said. "There are other options for water, we need to wait, it's premature. We're pleased the Council heard us and tabled the resolution."
The Gainesville/Hall joint resolution and memorandum of understanding was tabled for another 30 to 60 days; Council members said they want more information. Bethea said she'll be back.
Council has the option at voting meetings to approve or remove resolutions from their agenda and usually they approve them since they get thorough going over during work sessions, but not this time. They also tabled a resolution to approve a retirement contract.
Council member Myrtle Figueras said she wanted more information from Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall about Glades, adding that she was not at last Thursday's work session. Ruth Bruner made the motion to table the Glades resolution. At their meeting last Thursday Hall Commissioners approved the memorandum with expectations City Council would do the same.
"We have not seen the revised application from the County," Bruner said. "I'd like to look at it and be sure what we're agreeing to in terms of funding particularly. I don't want us to jump prematurely into something before we have enough information."
According to the memorandum Gainesville Hall County's water needs by the year 2060 would increase to up to 80 million gallons a day and the reservoir, costing an estimated $130-million, would meet that need, permitted at 30 to 40 million gallons a day.
Glades opponent Bill Brooksher said those estimates are way off.
"They're still using old city supply and demand projections from 2012," Blacksher said. "There's a more recent city projection saying that Gainesville certainly would not need this water anywhere near 2060 or at least until then."
Atlanta attorney Lauren Joy with the Southern Environmental Law Center represented the Georgia Water Coalition. She told Council there were unanswered questions concerning funding and how much water was needed for the reservoir based on changing population projections. Joy said adopting the resolution would be premature with the Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Review Process incomplete.
"We think signing a resolution like this is really premature in light of that process still ongoing," Joy said."The Water Coalition wants to urge you to look carefully and consider this resolution very carefully before you proceed with it."