GAINSVILLE,None - Governor Deal has earmarked millions towards the creation of new water storage options, one of those investments is the creation of new reservoirs. Some lawmakers say the creation of new reservoirs is a long term solution and we found one local county that has spent nearly 20 years on the project, has invested millions and is nowhere near breaking ground.
"I think we should be starting construction; this is almost 2012 and a not a shovel worth of dirt moved, and millions of dollars spent," said Jimmy Eckhols, a former Hall County commissioner. "Personally I thought we would be ready to pump water by the end of 2010; as it stands now it looks like it will be 2015 or 2020 before we pump any water."
Eckhols oversaw the original proposal to build the Glade Farms reservoir in Hall County. He said the project has taken a lot longer than originally expected.
"It's absolutely essential to the future of this county that we build that reservoir. I would rather it was further along," said Eckhols.
Deal has earmarked $300 million over the next few years in bond revenue for the development of alternative water sources.
"Reservoirs is certainly one of those components, probably the most expensive of those components and the one that will take the longest to bring online," said Deal.
Many think reservoirs are an important investment in Georgia's future water needs, but some critics argue the process is another example of government waste.
"We've spent $2 million on consulting and professional services from Hall County's respective since July 1, 2009. We spent $3.4 million on prior services, professional consulting services that were done when the project was a privately driven project," said Ashley Bell, current Hall County commissioner.
Bell said the Glade Farms project originated as a public/private partnership, but the county chose to take on the full responsibility of the project and has committed to nearly $40,000 a month in consulting fees at a time when the county is making extensive budget cuts.
"Making it a totally public project puts in our hands the liability of building a dam. That's going to cost $100 million, and to deliver the water is probably going to cost another $250 million. A project that size and a county with an $85 million in the budget, that's about five to seven years of our annual budget to get it done," said Bell.
Bell said it is a necessary investment for the growth of both Hall County and the state of Georgia.
"For our region of the state, for northeast Georgia and for surrounding counties around Hall, it's a big part of the equation for making sure that we are economically viable in going forward," said Bell.