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10-1-07 Drought leadership is “Absent without Leave” – It is badly needed!

Athens Banner-Herald 9-30-07……“We don’t have another restriction level,” said Melvin Davis, chairman of the Oconee County Commission and the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority that runs Bear Creek. “Four is the highest. Unless we starting handing out bottled water to people, that’s all we can do.” …….

AVOC

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September 30, 2007

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Drought leadership is “Absent without Leave” – It is badly needed!

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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Oconee Chairman Melvin Davis is also Chairman of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, the four-county group that owns and manages Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County.   However, one seldom finds Mr. Davis speaking in any articles on Water Bans.   When the total outdoor watering ban was announced, it came from an Administrative Person at NEGA RDC which provides administrative support to UOBWA.   On the Oconee County Website, the notice is attributed to the Authority’s Operations Committee.    No mention of Melvin Davis!!

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Melvin Davis is leading in wrong directions

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Bear Creek Reservoir was never planned for unrestrained growth.   However, since taking office on January 1, 2001, Melvin Davis has seldom seen a residential development he did not approve.   He has also been eager to run water and sewer lines to these far-flung developments.   The Davis Administrations have brought us MPD’s (Master Planned Developments) which have countless water and sewer stub-outs but limited residents and water customers.   Davis has also closed Wells (iron and other problems- though Oconee Countians have lived on Well Water for decades) which had been a significant source of water (approx 2 MGD capacity during my last year in office)

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Oconee’s growth policies of recent years have committed to greater water needs

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It has been no secret that we have water shortages in North Georgia and it is a permanent challenge.    We had a significant drought in 2002, the second year of Mr. Davis’s tenure and the year that Bear Creek Reservoir came online.  

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Middle Oconee in 2002 – Barrow County News

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Folks were hauling water in 2002

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An Athens businessman mentioned Bear Creek to me a few days ago and his memory that I was involved in that project.   In a statement that I took as a compliment:   “Where would we be now without Bear Creek Reservoir?!”

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Rather than shepherding our share of that reservoir, Melvin Davis has pumped more than Oconee’s share in the five short years since the Reservoir came online with his “wide open” zoning and subdivision policies.   Barrow, Jackson, Clarke County, as well as Oconee are feeling the challenges of the drought.    In reading the area newspapers, I find that some Barrow and Winder residents felt they were conserving water before Oconee et al.   The UOBWA voted in July 2006 to give its chairman, Melvin Davis, authority to deal with the drought:   SEEThe Jackson Herald, July 5, 2006, http://www.mainstreetnews.com/2006/July/J0705F.html, excerpt below.

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The UOBWA was the place to work on our water supply.We had the partners, legal operating agreements, a reservoir, treatment plant and other Jackson County streams for additional reservoirs if needed.   While Melvin Davis is Chairman of UOBWA, he has apparently made little attempt to work within an existing Authority.I am sure the recent emergency EPD allowance of 15 MGD from the Middle Oconee River was pursued by others, most probably Bob Snipes, Asst Administrator of Athens-Clarke County.   SEE:  Athens Banner-Herald, September 27, 2007, Area may draw from river.                                      http://onlineathens.com/stories/092707/news_20070927026.shtml,   EXCERPTS BELOW:

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Davis has led Oconee into a terribly expensive and long-term project at Hard Labor Creek in Walton County.    Davis will be out of office, even if he is elected to another term, when the HLC reservoir is supposed to come online in 2014.   Even then, 3.5 MGD capacity for $ 43 Million is less than the 7 MGD we own at Bear Creek for less than $ 10 Million.

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There are rumors (future articles) of other egregious thoughtless actions and disregard for Water Supply by Melvin Davis.   Sources and my knowledge of some of the folks involved with Bear Creek indicate to me that Melvin Davis is not trusted by some partners in the Bear Creek Reservoir.   That may explain the lack of any effort there.If that is true, the other members of the Authority need to elect a new Chairman that has vision, public trust and leadership ability.    Those qualities are sorely lacking at the present time.

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Folks, we have a water crisis that needs real leadership and real solutions.   Area leaders and media need to make citizens more aware of the situation.It will only worsen unless we make some changes.

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9-30-07 Drought is worsening – what are our plans?

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The Athens Banner-Herald - September 30, 2007

http://onlineathens.com/stories/093007/news_20070930078.shtml

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What if drought worsens? No telling

Restrictions at level 4, after that, no one's really thought about what to do ‹ until now

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By Blake Aeud

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Across Northeast Georgia, grass is turning brown, gardens are shriveling and landscapers are at home watching soap operas.

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It's one of the worst droughts Georgians have ever seen and, despite recent showers, shows no signs of ending soon. Conservation measures and a state permit to make emergency withdrawals from the Middle Oconee River will buy the region some time, ….

The four counties - Barrow, Clarke, Jackson and Oconee - that draw water from Bear Creek Reservoir declared Level 4 or equivalent water restrictions two weeks ago, banning all outdoor water use with a few exceptions. ……….

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We don’t have another restriction level,” said Melvin Davis, chairman of the Oconee County Commission and the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority that runs Bear Creek. “Four is the highest. Unless we starting handing out bottled water to people, that’s all we can do.” …….


9-29-07 What if Bear Creek Reservoir Goes Dry?

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The Commerce News September 26, 2007                        

http://www.mainstreetnews.com/2007/September/C0926E.html

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COLUMN       By Mark Beardsley

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Hard To Imagine Effects Of An Extended Drought

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Barring some unexpected and substantial rainfall, this drought is going to pose some very, very serious problems for a lot of people.

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Right now, the Bear Creek Reservoir is due to run out of water by Nov. 12. Assuming the EPD grants emergency relief and allows another 15 million gallons per day (mgd) out of the North Oconee River, we can buy another 30 days of water.

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Typically, we’d have a hurricane or tropical storm dump some water here, but if you’ve noticed, all of the tropical storms entering the Gulf of Mexico are heading northwest instead of northeast, which is the usual trajectory.

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The state climatologist predicts that the “La Niña” effect will make winter — usually the wet season — extremely dry. The possibility that Bear Creek will run dry is significant. The normal winter rains that would recharge the streams and reservoirs are (apparently) going to skip us this year. Every day we see a 40 percent chance of rain and get none is like a nail in the coffin.

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Nobody — no one — knows how we’d handle that problem.And while Jackson County would be in a heap of trouble if the regional reservoir went dry, we’d still be doing well compared to Athens-Clarke and Oconee County. They have no other significant sources. This is being called the “100-year drought,” the new standard by which streams will be measured for low-flow periods. We’re breaking new ground here…..


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Will Bear Creek Reservoir Go Dry?

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The Commerce News- September 26, 2007

http://www.mainstreetnews.com/2007/September/C0926A.html

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Will Bear Creek Reservoir Go Dry?

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Even With Emergency Withdrawal, Reservoir Could Be Exhausted In November

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The Environmental Protection Division granted an emergency request from the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, allowing it to take an extra 15 million gallons of water daily from the Middle Oconee River…….

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The EPD gave its consent Tuesday, but the additional water — under its permit, the authority can pump no water at the current river level
— is only a stopgap measure.

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The authority’s Operations Committee met with the EPD’s Kevin Farrell last Wednesday at the authority’s water plant to seek emergency relief. Farrell seemed receptive to the request, but the answer had to come from higher up in the EPD.

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“The metro area is in dire straits, but this is the area in the most trouble, for sure,” Farrell commented. “You guys are getting less rain than anyone else.”

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Bill Martello of Jordan, Jones & Goulding, the authority’s engineering firm which operates the reservoir, proposed that Athens-Clarke be allowed to pump 7.5 mgd directly from the river and the authority be allowed to pump a like amount. The actions
would effectively reduce the drawdown of the reservoir by 15 mgd. Current usage is about 30 mgd……………..


9-22-07 Water Ban Notice in Oconee County

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Oconee County Website    - September 13, 2007

http://www.oconeecounty.com/Whatsnew/Water%20Issues/WaterIssuesPage.htm

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Total Ban on Outdoor Watering
Declared as Drought Conditions Worsen

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 - With no end in sight to the drought gripping Georgia, the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority Operations Committee voted today to issue a total ban on outdoor watering in all four of its member counties effective Monday, September 17, 2007. ……………..


9-21-07 Outdoor watering ban imposed in four counties of Bear Creek Reservoir

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The Jackson Herald - September 21, 2007

http://www.mainstreetnews.com/2007/September/J0919C.html

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Outdoor Watering Ban Imposed

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Move Affects Jackson County Water Authority Customers; Commerce Still At Level 2 — Every Other Day Watering

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With no end in sight to the drought gripping Georgia, the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority Operations Committee voted Sept. 13 to issue a total ban on outdoor watering in all four of its member counties effective Monday, Sept. 17.

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Citizens in Athens-Clarke County, Barrow County, Jackson County, and Oconee County who use water from the reservoir will be restricted from outdoor watering because of increasingly lower water levels in the 505-acre Bear Creek Reservoir that serves those communities. These restrictions do not include commercial and industrial use critical to the conduct of businesses such as commercial car washes, tree farms and garden supply nurseries. Additional exemptions may be granted by individual jurisdictions……..


9.9.07 Oconee County Chairman Melvin Davis, the decision was easy…..

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The Walton Tribune - September 9, 2007

http://www.waltontribune.com/story.lasso?ewcd=f5944ddbd559c3cb

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Oconee joins Walton in HLC - By Robbie Schwartz

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WATKINSVILLE — For Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis, the decision was easy……


Drought Authority given to Chairman Melvin Davis of the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority in July 2006

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The Jackson Herald - July 5, 2006

http://www.mainstreetnews.com/2006/July/J0705F.html

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Drought plan in effect for reservoir

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Water systems that rely on the Bear Creek Reservoir have been ordered to cut consumption.

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The Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority, which owns the reservoir, enacted its drought contingency plan effective Saturday. The move means Jackson, Barrow, Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties must cut their use of water …


The authority also voted to give Chairman Melvin Davis authority to order implementation of subsequent phases of the drought plan upon the recommendation of the Operations Committee……..


9-21-07 Water shortage is not a “passing” thing

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The Athens Banner-Herald - September 21, 2007

http://onlineathens.com/stories/092107/living_20070921001.shtml

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Athens Gardening - Pettis: Our town is drying up

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Water is the biggest, most pressing issue facing Athens-Clarke County and the state of Georgia. The drought that started in May of 1998 is nearly a decade old. What has been done in the past 10 years on a statewide and local level other than ask citizens to conserve?.....


9-27-07 GA EPD to allow 15 MGD withdrawal from Middle Oconee to help four counties of UOBWA

The Athens Banner-Herald - September 27, 2007

http://onlineathens.com/stories/092707/news_20070927026.shtml

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As water supply drains, counties turn to state for new source

Area may draw from river

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By Blake Aued

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Northeast Georgia officials expect the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to give a four-county authority permission to draw up to 15 million gallons of water a day from the Middle Oconee River…….

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"I think it's important for the public to understand that doesn't mean we suddenly go back to business as usual," Athens-Clarke Deputy Manager Bob Snipes said.

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Half of the water will go to Athens-Clarke County and half will be used to fill the reservoir, which serves all four counties…….

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The EPD already has given preliminary approval to withdraw the water, and final approval could come as soon as today, said Gary Duck, director of the Athens-Clarke Public Utilities Department.

"We're expecting it any time," Duck said.


9-29-07 Is ban on outdoor watering enough?

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - September 29, 2007

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2007/09/28/drought_0929.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab

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Ban on most outdoor watering may not be enough, state says
EPD ordered the ban for metro Atlanta and north Georgia
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By MATT KEMPNER

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Even as the state mandated the toughest outdoor watering restrictions ever for North Georgia on Friday, officials are scrambling to determine what other steps they might take if the measures aren't enough to withstand the brutal drought.

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Carol Couch, the director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, ordered an immediate ban on most outdoor watering in the northern third of the state. It's the most severe step laid out in the state's drought response plans. But Couch said, "My calculation is it may be inadequate."

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The drought "has reached historical proportions," she said……


9-26-07 Rockdale is latest county to ban outdoor watering

The Rockdale Citizen - September 26, 2007

http://www.rockdalecitizen.net

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Water woes -Drought leads county to ban outdoor watering

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By Adam Thompson Staff Reporter

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CONYERS — Rockdale County on Tuesday became the latest Georgia county to ban outdoor water use in response to the region’s persistent drought…….

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Rockdale Water Resources Director Dwight Wicks said Tuesday he expects the ban to last at least through spring, ……….

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Wicks said the county’s drinking water supply at Randy Poynter Lake is about 10 feet below full pool — about a 40 percent deficit — which he has previously said would be an emergency situation. …….


ALSO SEE:

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Bear Creek Drought of 2002

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/090502/new_20020905020.shtml

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9-2-05 Is There a Housing Bubble in Oconee County, Georgia & the United States?

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4-20-06 Pop Goes the Housing Bubble - Some say

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5-7-07 Oconee’s Master Planned Developments have mixed history and success


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