Is a win for Georgia a loss for Hall County?
In 2009 Georgia lost a court case that effectively handcuffed our ability to grow. As you know, we cannot grow without resources, and water is a valuable resource that is needed for the area to grow. However, yesterday Georgia won their appeal on the use of Lake Lanier. More importantly, in the challenge, the Court of Appeals said; “the district court and the Corps erred in concluding that water supply was not an authorized purpose of the Buford Project under the RHA.”
After the original 2009 ruling, our Hall County Board of Commissioners decided to roll the bones and take an all in risk that Georgia would lose the appeal. The BOC had already considered a project called Glades Reservoir and applied for a permit in 2009 for a reservoir with a 6.4 MGD (Million Gallons per Day) withdrawal. When the Magnuson ruling came in severely limiting the withdrawal amounts, our leaders saw an opportunity to sell water to the Atlanta, withdrew the 6.4 MGD permit and started working on an 80 MGD permit.
While we would have probably had the 6.4 MGD permit in hand for a couple of years already, they pulled it back to go for the mac daddy. So, the question is how much did that cost Hall County? Well, if we just look at the consulting fees that are paid, it cost us a lot. You may remember that back in February, the lead consultant lowered his fees by $5,000 per month. Just in consulting in the last 24 months, the county has spent over $1,000,000! Click here to find more history on Glades.
When the Glades project was introduced back in 2009, the project was planned with an estimated price tag of $29.6m. Any guesses as to what the price tag is now? $345m, with inflation! I think we can all agree that the business plan is shot if Georgia wins this legal battle. The business plan says that the “debt will be repaid and operation and maintenance costs of the system will be funded through revenue from bulk raw water sales generated by the project.” Oh snap, if the water is not restricted from Lake Lanier, who is going to buy the “raw water”?
We continue to spend $40k per month on consulting fees for a project that we may no longer need. However, our Chairman says; “We need reservoirs to ensure that we have enough water to support our growing county. This project will allow us to control our destiny”. O.k., but do we need an 80 MGD reservoir if there is no one else needs the water? By the time this is done, we will have wasted over $1.5 million in consulting fees trying to get a permit to supply half of North Georgia drinking water.
Don’t you just love it when elected officials gamble using the tax payers’ dime? I guess they thought that it was house money, but instead, the people are going to lose their homes when they pass along their losses in the form of higher taxes and fees.
Hugh Hall County Akston