Two reservoirs planned in north Georgia could have an impact on the water level of Etowah River, which flows through Cherokee County.
The Etowah Water and Sewer Authority through a public-private partnership with American Water would like to build a 2,000-acre reservoir and water treatment plant at Shoal Creek in Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area.
The plan would also include 8,000 acres of passive park space and a pipeline to take treated water to customers.
Brooke Anderson, general manager of the authority, said the 10,000-acre property is owned by the Atlanta Airport Authority and it’s been working for three years to come up with a deal to purchase the land.
He said he hopes to get something moving on the reservoir in the next 12 months.
Anderson said American Water plans to provide the financial and technical support and expertise to get the plan off the ground.
The authority does not have to get the approval of the Dawson County Commission as Senate Bill 122, passed earlier this year by the Georgia General Assembly, allows local governments to partner with private entities to build reservoirs.
“We are working with the county to do it in an agreement (form) with them,” Anderson said. “We’re all up here together.”
There are also plans to build a reservoir at Calhoun Creek on the Dawson and Lumpkin County line and another at Russell Creek in Dawson.
Plans are to place a dam at Calhoun Creek in Dawson County and pump water from the Etowah and Chestateerivers in the subsequent reservoir.
The Calhoun Creek would supply Forsyth County residents with water, while the Russell Creek Reservoir, which would also pump from the Etowah, could serve as Dawson County’s future water supply.
Anderson said the water customer based for the proposed Shoal Creek Reservoir has not been determined yet.
Forsyth County spokeswoman Jodi Gardner said the government has considered several options for its future water supply, including continuing to use Lake Lanier, reservoirs located either inside or outside the county, groundwater wells, withdrawals from the Chattahoochee River and transfers from the Tennessee River.
The Coosa River Basin Initiative and the Upper Etowah River Alliance have both expressed their concerns about the proposed reservoirs.
Since both creeks are tributaries of the Etowah River, Upper Etowah River Alliance’s Watershed Director Diane Minick said there are concerns that the reservoir would take “significant amounts of water” from the Etowah River, the county’s only source of drinking water that also flows into Lake Allatoona.
The Etowah is already the source of water for the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir in Canton, which provides drinking water to both Canton water and Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority customers.
She said the river’s flow could be reduced by up to half to supply water to residents not in Cherokee County.
“It could have an significant impact,” she said of Cherokee’s ability to supply water to its rapidly growing population.
She also said the Coosa River basin, which includes the Etowah, has the highest number of endemic species in North America, which could have an impact on its ecological system.
The basin is perhaps best know for its various number of darters residing in its waters.
While the alliance won’t take an official stance on the whether or not the reservoir should be built, Minick said she hopes developers use caution when it comes to solving metro Atlanta and north Georgia’s water needs.
Anderson said the reservoir and passive park area near Shoal Creek would be available for use by anyone wishing to come, including Cherokee County residents.
He also said he does not believe there will be “significant” impact on water flow downstream.
Anderson also noted it’s very well “conceivable” the city of Atlanta could decide to sell the land to a future developer, who may have plans to build something more harmful such as a massive commercial project.