Lumpkin county resident Rebecca Carter, president of the Etowah Hills Corporation, presented the city with what she called an alternative to the Calhoun Creek Reservoir project.
The Calhoun Creek project was recently presented to the city in closed door session by the Georgia Reservoir Co. Neither the public nor the press were invited to attend the presentation.
“People will be thrown out of their homes with a Calhoun Creek project,” Carter told the council. “Our historic water ditches will be 110 feet under water.”
Using maps to illustrate, Carter called the the Calhoun Creek project “a monster dam” and compared its size to Lake Lanier’s Buford dam.
“The crowing glory of their (Georgia Reservoir Co’s) plan is a monster dam nearly 2,000 feet long, 230 feet high which holds back approximately 458 acres of surface water,” Carter said. “This dwarfs Buford dam at 1,630 ft long ... Buford is 192 ft high. This is 230 ft high.”
In February, shortly after the closed door presentation by the Georgia Reservoir Co., the city applied for two surface water withdrawal permits from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Dawson County, Lumpkin County, the City of Dahlonega and the Dahlonega Water and Sewer Authority have rejected the Calhoun Creek project.
The City of Dawsonville is the first to align with Georgia Reservoir Co., and to apply for permits.
If approved, the city would be allowed to take water from the Etowah River and hold it in the proposed Calhoun Creek Regional Reservoir for future use.
Carter also highlighted the benefits of the smaller Etowah Hills Reservoir project saying they would drop their water levels 100-ft. saving people from being forced to move from their homes.
“We drop water levels 10 feet more, and now our disturbed water ditches are safe. We have saved 18,000 linear feet of creek where the endangered Etowah darter lives,” said added. “And because the Etowah Hills Reservoir will be a different type of reservoir with a fairly stable water level, we will not have the environmentally damaging mud flats ...”
Carter stated the Ethowah Hills Corporation is a non-profit group with planning in place to become a “local economic engine.” She cited hiring locally and allowing employees to form a co-op, which will serve as the human resources arm for the corporation, and that the cooperation will give back to community projects such as Blackburn Park.
At the end of the presentation, Mayor James Grogan questioned Carter.
“How many million or billions or gallons are we talking about?
“I don’t have that figure,” said Carter. “This is a concept presentation. I’m glad to get those for you. I’m glad you’re interested.”
Council member Chris Gaines asked about funding and land acquisition.
“(It’s the) same as Calhoun Creek—a feasibility grant through the governor’s reservoir initiative, through loans, grants, federal and state funds and a bond issue if we need to.”
Additionally, Gaines asked if the project was asking the government to purchase land for private development.
“No, sir,” Carter said, “this is a concept stage— that would be later in a more developed business plan, in a more highly developed phase. The land that is sold around here, that money won’t go off to some fat cat developer like it usually does in the corporate world. This money would go to the corporation and the corporation it would be used and the net proceeds applied to community projects ...”
The council took no action, but agreed to take Carter’s presentation under consideration.
“Rebecca Carter did a good job of presenting her concept of her reservoir,” Mayor Grogan said Tuesday morning. “It is the responsibility of the council to look, see, and listen to all proposals concerning reservoirs. They did that last evening. We, as the mayor and Council of Dawsonville, must make a difficult decision on water and revenue needs for the future as it relates to all of our citizens. This is not a hurry process. It takes years to develop and we are in the formative stage.”