City of Dawsonville Plan to build Cal...

City of Dawsonville Plan to build Calhoun Creek Reservoir

Posted in the Dawsonville Forum

Since: Sep 11

Jefferson, GA

#1 May 12, 2013
Scott Cole has put his cards upon the table.

From the Cover Letter to the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority:

"The proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir, located in Dawsonville and Lumpkin County, provides a unique opportunity to supply the region with 47.5 mgd of water during times of drought. Its proximity to both the Etowah River and Chestatee River permit it to draw water from one or both during time a higher flows. The same proximity allows releases from the reservoir to be directed to either the Etowah or Chattahoochee basin as demands require. Use of the Direct State Investment funds will permit Dawsonville to negotiate with public and private partners without concern the land will be subdivided to the extend the project become unattainable."

From the Project Description:

Water supply in North Georgia is a critical concern. The population in Georgia is expected to increase over 50% in the next 30 years, from approximately 10 million people in 2012 to over 15 million people in 2040. The geology of North Georgia, underlain by a layer of granite, i.e. Stone Mountain, limits the availability of ground water resources. Therefore, as the population continues to grow, we can expect North Georgia to continue to rely on existing and new water supply reservoirs.

The proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir is a water storage reservoir on Calhoun Creek located about one mile upstream of its confluence with the Etowah River. The proposed 590-acre reservoir lies in the City of Dawsonville, Dawson County, and Lumpkin County. The reservoir will store approximately 10.6 billion gallons of water at its full pool elevation of 1,350 feet msl, the equivalent of raising Lake Lanier by one foot.

Besides its storage capacity, the location of the proposed reservoir provides advantages rarely found at other reservoir sites:

First, the 10.6-billion gallon storage reservoir IS m a very small watershed. The watershed at the dam is only 3.5 square miles. This minimizes the isolation of aquatic species in the upstream reaches of the watershed, because there is no significant watershed upstream of the lake. This also means upstream activities are unlikely to affect the quality of water in the reservoir. Further, the city will not have the issues adopting the stream corridor protection buffers required on all blue-line streams upstream of a water supply reservoir. Because the required buffers are so small, the city proposes to purchase all of the stream buffers outright.

Second, the reservoir is in a part of Dawsonville and Lumpkin County sparsely populated; the reservoir may only affect two homes. However, this is likely to change without intervention. Before the real estate market collapsed, there was a proposal to divide the property into 1,400-lot community. This is the primary reason the city seeks Direct State Investment to purchase a majority of the land. It preserves the opportunity.

Since: Sep 11

Jefferson, GA

#2 May 12, 2013
Next, the Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir project is located near both the Etowah River, approximately one mile downstream of the dam site, and the Chestatee River, in the Chattahoochee River Basin, approximately 3.5 miles from the dam. Dawsonville proposes to withdraw water from both sources to maximize the reservoir's reliable safe yield. Adhering to Georgia's instream flow criteria, while
fairly utilizing both sources, the Project is calculated to yield 47.5 million gallons a day, every day.

Finally, besides drawing water from both the Etowah and Chestatee Rivers, the Project's location enables Dawsonville to release water into both the Etowah and Chestatee Rivers. Accordingly, the reservoir's location provides a means to manage flows into, out of, and between the ACT Basin, the Etowah River, and the ACF Basin, the Chattahoochee River on a local or regional. While this raises the issue of interbasin transfers, the reservoir's location provides the ability to divert and store Chattahoochee Basin water for later use in the Chattahoochee Basin, eventhough it is stored in the Etowah Basin.

How the Project is Innovative

The Project is innovative in that it provides a local and regional solution to issues caused by the multiple watersheds running through Georgia's populated areas. The project has the ability to provide 47.5 mgd of water to meet residential, commercial and industrial water demands in the Chattahoochee and Etowah Basins, and/or the ability to provide up to 47.5 mgd of water to boost flows in either the Etowah or Chattahoochee Basins.

How the Cost of the Project Compares to Judicial Approaches of New Water Supply

The estimated cost for the Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir Project is

$182,000,000, including full implementation of the intakes on both the Etowah and Chestatee Basins. At that estimated cost, the project will yield 47.5 mgd of water for an estimated cost of $3.83 per gallon of storage. This compares favorably to other regional reservoirs that cost between $2.50 and $5.00 per gallon of storage.

Whether this individual approach can be replicated or is being replicated, in other places in the State or within a given region.

The Project sponsors have not done an exhaustive search of other systems to determine if others are using the dual basin approach elsewhere in the State or nationally. However, the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority (CCMWA) provides treated water to wholesale customers in both the Chattahoochee and the Etowah Basins. It pulls from both Lake Allatoona and the Chattahoochee River. CCMWA considers balancing withdrawals with demand in each of the basins its operates.

How easily this approach can meet all of the relevant regulatory requirements including permitting (Federal and State, if both apply).

The proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir appears to be a project that can successfully obtain all of the federal and state permits required for its construction. On a federal level, Calhoun Creek's small watershed minimizes impacts due to constructing the dam on fauna upstream of the reservoir because there is so little area upstream of the reservoir. Likewise, because endangered species are prevalent throughout the Etowah Basin, minimization of impacts to protect its species will be an issue, but because the Project is in a small watershed, its location minimizes those issues. Further, both federal and state permitting processes require, if a reservoir is constructed, the sponsors should utilize it to the maximum extent practical. Using both the Etowah and Chestatee Rivers as source water for the storage reservoir does that. Finally, while the proposed intake on the Chestatee River upstream of Lake Lanier is a complicating factor, the tremendous amount of consulting work already being done within the Lake Lanier basin provides a baseline which Dawsonville can use to reduce impacts to Lake Lanier.

Since: Sep 11

Jefferson, GA

#3 May 12, 2013
How your Project will or will not augment water supply storage and/or supply in relation to one of the State's 14 major River Basins.

The proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir project will draw water from both the Etowah River in the ACT and the Chestatee River in the ACF. All of the water withdrawn will be stored in the proposed reservoir and will be available for release into either the Etowah Basin or the Chattahoochee Basin depending upon the demand for water in each basin.

How your proposed project could assist with supplying water to service areas adjacent to your own. Describe the efforts to involve the joining water providers in planning, building, and financing your Project.

The proposed Project assists in meeting water demand in both the Etowah and the Chattahoochee Basin Watersheds. On a local/regional level, it provides the ability to meet water demand in both the Etowah and the Chattahoochee Basins. Dawsonville has discussed the project with representatives from Dawson County and various governmental entities in Lumpkin County. Prior to Dawsonville's involvement, the Project was discussed with both Forsyth County and Fulton County for consideration.


In summary, the location of the proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir, originally proposed for a 1,400-unit subdivision, provides the unique ability to store over 10 billion gallons of storage, and assist in managing local and regional interbasin transfer concerns, while in a small watershed with minimal environmental impacts. Nevertheless, the location is a resource that can be gone in the blink of an eye when the real estate market returns. Dawsonville seeks Direct State Investment funding to purchase a majority of the land needed to preserve the opportunity until it seeks the appropriate state and federal permits.

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