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September 2, 2007

BEAR CREEK RESERVOIR ON THE RADAR AGAIN

A recent article in the Covington News revealed that not only was Newton County expanding Cornish Creek Reservoir but they also plan to start the permitting process again for Bear Creek Reservoir (BCR).

The Covington News
http://www.covnews.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=3&ArticleID=448&TM=40468.64
From the Covington News story dated 7.27.07:

The Water Resources Department will oversee the expansion of the Cornish Creek plant from 15 million gallons a day to 25 million gallons a day. Kelley said he expected the expansion to be completed in 18 months to two years.
While approximately 90 percent of the necessary right of way has been acquired for the creation of the Bear Creek Reservoir - a project long in the making for the county - Kelley said the county is currently re-applying for its 404 permit from the Environmental Protection Agency which is required before any other further steps can be taken in the project. Acquiring the permit could take anywhere from 18 months to four years.
"As soon as that permit is obtained, it is our goal to begin work on that dam." Kelley said.

Construction costs for the project will be determined by the conditions of the permit said Kelley.

See entire article here:
http://www.covnews.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=3&ArticleID=448&TM=40468.64
July 27, 2007, Protecting Newton's water, Rachel Oswald, Staff Writer

The “new” state water plan offers many alternatives over building new reservoirs.
See: http://www.gwf.org/gawater/waterreportfinalversion.pdf to review what is being recommended to the State Legislature for a final vote in the 2008 session.

With BCR the real question is "Where will the water come from to fill it?" Bear Creek is a little more than a trickle at the present time. Newton County, Porterdale, and the City of Covington all get water from the Alcovy River. It’s doubtful there’s enough flow left to issue another water withdraw permit, even though some “water consultants” seem to have a great deal of influence. Asking for the 404 Permit from the Army Corps of Engineers is an end run around the EPD that issues the water withdrawal permits.
After starting the reservoir with a 404 Permit, the ruse is that EPD “must” issue a withdrawal permit.

Is it a need for water, or is it the fact that Newton County will have to return the land to those people they took it from? Sources tell TWG the deal was if there was no reservoir in 20 years, the people could buy their land back at the same price Newton County paid for it. The 20th year is fast approaching.

It appears as if water lines and reservoirs have an awful lot to do with land and its development. At a recent BOC meeting private landowners in Jasper County questioned the “well fields” that JCWSA want protected. These well fields are on private property. By “protecting” them, the private property owner may not be able to do what they had plans to do in the future on their own land. No one’s private property should be subject to the whims of a few unelected authority members, or to a few elected commissioners for that matter. If you don’t care now, you will when your property is affected.

TWG will watch the progress of the BCR permit process. A reservoir in the proposed area of BCR would pose a threat to those living on Jackson Lake. The flow of water into the lake, the amount of water in the lake, and other problems will affect people of Jasper County if Bear Creek Reservoir becomes a reality. The other concern is what role Jasper County might be asked to and be willing to play.


TWG
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