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3-16-07 What the Oconee 3-2 (Melvin Davis) vote on Hard Labor Creek Means

……Jackson Herald -10-16-2002 …..It was the BOC which dug this financial hole with undisciplined spending habits. It created a large administrative bureaucracy and added thousands of dollars in expense to the county budget. . Now it's time to pay for that fiscal irresponsibility.



March 15, 2007


What the Oconee 3-2 (Melvin Davis) vote on Hard Labor Creek Means


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc


There are many reasons why so many think the Hard Labor Creek project is ill-advised and a mistake. The biggest worry is cost and so little water.   It is a long-term commitment and debt.


Melvin Davis can talk glibly about $ 46 Million as if it were just another element of the County Budget.  He does not explain that we are getting a relatively small amount of water (.3.5 MGD to 12 MGD) for ten times the cost of Bear Creek.   (See chart below:HLC - $ 104,860,000 for 12-18 MGD; Bear Creek Less than $ 10 Million for 7 MGD)


Exaggerated population projections were used along with extremely optimistic revenue projections for Oconee Water customers.   Some claim taxpayers will not have to pay.  However, there is risk.  The contract will be between two counties.  Both will have to pay debt service regardless of revenue.  In 2001-2 the Jackson County Administration of now defeated Harold Fletcher bellyached about having to pay the debt service for the Water Authority.  10-23-02 Jackson County BOC “Fusses” at Water Authority and Discusses Taxes


As Jackson County and its defeated politicians learned, debt and spending will come back to haunt the taxpayers and the irresponsible officials who did it.


Oconee County’s chairman Melvin Davis is lacking in vision and real leadership.He also lacks the appreciation for a Dollar that those in the real world have from experience.   He is causing much damage to Oconee County and its future.


Melvin Davis broke tie and strongly defends his vote in Walton Tribune Article below




41.8 MGD

OCONEE (28.7%)

12.0 MGD





Oconee Capacity




12-18 MGD

3.4-5.2 MGD









41.8-63.0 MGD

12-18 MGD


BEAR Creek Reservoir






PLANT Future



53 MGD





23.3 mgd





10.0 mgd

8 mgd

15 mgd



13.25 mgd

9 mgd

20 mgd



6.36 mgd

4 mgd

10 mgd





MGD 24- hour period







58 MGD

79.0 MGD


Less than $ 10 Million

  7 MGD

  9.5 MGD 

3-11-07 Walton has reservoir partner with Oconee County


The Walton Tribune



March 11, 2007

Walton has reservoir partner in Oconee Co

By Robbie Schwartz


WALTON COUNTY — With Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis casting the tiebreaking vote, Oconee County officials voted 3-2 to proceed with the next step in joining the Hard Labor Creek reservoir project as a partner.
“I think in looking at the big picture and what our needs are, our demands are, and what our options were, it was really a pretty easy decision,” Davis said. “We all know in this region of the state, we don’t have a lot of opportunities for water. We need to be cognizant of all the opportunities and capture what is going to take place in the next 20 to 30 years.”
As the matter stands now, officials with both Walton and Oconee counties are drafting an intergovernmental agreement that will hash out the details that will commit Oconee County to an estimated 29 percent share in the reservoir project.
Davis said there were a host of reasons why he ended up casting his vote in favor of joining the Hard Labor Creek reservoir project, first and foremost being that according to county consultants, the county could be out of water by as early as 2014. Davis also commented that while county officials were considering three different options — two of which were building reservoirs in Oconee County — only the Hard Labor Creek project had the coveted 404 permit in hand, a process that along with designing and building would have put either of the other two projects as far as 10 years away from meeting the county’s water needs.
Davis also said that Oconee County can afford to go ahead and finance its share of the first phase costs of the overall $53 million Hard Labor Creek reservoir project. Davis said that utilizing the county’s enterprise fund, based on growth projections and future increases in commercial needs in the county, it is affordable for the county to come up with the estimated $0 million needed for Oconee’s share of the initial phase costs.

The Oconee County chairman also noted that he did not share some of the reservations expressed by other commission members about questionable real estate practices associated with the early days of the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir.
Noted by Oconee County Commission Member Chuck Horton prior to the vote were “real estate scandals” where Walton County officials were allegedly helping to decide where to build the reservoir and also owned real estate in the area.
More than two years ago, local land developer Ben Doster resigned as chairman of the Walton County Water and Sewerage Authority Board after conflict of interest questions were raised regarding land at Hard Labor Creek.
Recently, ethics questions have surfaced about Precision Planning Inc., the engineering firm hired by Walton County for the reservoir project, moving into offices that had housed Doster’s company.
“I think the current Walton County Board of Commissioners have re-organized and I have a lot of confidence in what they have done. The fact of the matter is, by law, only fair market value can be paid for any land involving this project. I believe that any kind of structure established to govern the Hard Labor Creek reservoir, if everything is worked out, I have complete confidence that it will be handled with the utmost display of ethics and scrutiny,” Davis said.
Walton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Kevin Little said that while the county was prepared to move forward with the project alone, he was “extremely excited” that Oconee County chose to re-join the Hard Labor Creek reservoir project after initially starting as a partner at the onset, then withdrawing with the City of Winder as a partner to pursue the possibility of a reservoir within its own borders, and now re-joining the project as a partner.
“Walton County has done engineering to prove that the project was viable and now, after more intense engineering and independent assessment, Oconee County has basically found that this is the best project in the region for water supply for many years to come,” Little said. “We are now taking steps to get agreements in place that will enable this project as a joint venture to proceed along smoothly.”

3-11-07 Is the Jack’s Creek plan dead?


The Walton Tribune



March 11, 2007                    COLUMN

Is the Jack’s Creek plan dead?

By Brian Arrington

The day Oconee County decided to join Walton County’s $ 353 million Hard Labor Creek Reservoir project, a trio of Walton families made one last effort to save the Jack’s Creek reservoir alternative.

According to a Tuesday night press release the Thompson, Lassiter and Hester families say they have a plan to save ratepayers money, while making them some in return.

The Hard Labor option for Oconee produces 8 million gallons per day for an estimated $08 million, the release said. However, a recent engineering study performed by The Engineering Group for Oconee County shows that Jack’s Creek can provide 18 MGD for Oconee at a total build out price of $6.5 million.

The families say the study shows Jack’s Creek has been singled out as “a unique opportunity for a potential future water source.” According to the study, Jack’s Creek could provide the needed safe water yield for Oconee cheaper than Hard Labor Creek can.

“In order to provide firm land costs to the study, the Lassiters have agreed to sell the entire 500 acres needed for the basin for $,000 per acre,” opined the release.

They have also agreed to donate the property needed for the river pump site, a 1.2-mile river diversion, dam site and water treatment facility site.

The Thompson and Hester families also intend to donate land for wetland preservation purposes — meaning $2.5 million would be cut from the original $9.7 million project cost.

What does this all mean? Not much if Oconee and Walton have made their minds up and agreed to partner up on the HLC project, but it is — or was — food for thought.



06/10/01 - Bear Creek History and Figures

2-6-07 Walton – Oconee Hard Labor Creek Project raises many questions


Liberal population projections to justify need


Oconee Water Needs Spirals Upward


Project Cost Estimates


Partnership Interests – Oconee Definite Minority Partner


Project Schedule