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10-7-07 Why did Bear Creek Reservoir Water Level Sink so Fast?

Oconee County has been selling water to Walton County, via pipeline on U S Hwy 78, since the Bear Creek Reservoir came online in the Spring of 2002.. Walton is connected to the Gwinnett system which has plenty of water. ... This article has facts and history about the existing Bear Creek Reservoir

AVOC

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October 5, 2007

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Why did Bear Creek Reservoir Water Level Sink so Fast?

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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Bear Creek Reservoir and Treatment Plant 2004

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Just five short years ago this area was celebrating the coming online of the Bear Creek Reservoir and Water Treatment Plant in Jackson County.Press reports talked about its capacity during droughts.     10-19-02 Bear Creek Reservoir & Treatment Plant Dedicated

Yet now we are to the point of banning outdoor watering and rationing of water.

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Bear Creek Reservoir on Old Savage Road 10-4-07

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Bear Creek Reservoir on Savage Road near Dam 10-4-07

Bear Creek Drought Level 10-4-07 On Jefferson side of DAM

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What happened or did not happen?   The first problem is that the counties involved went on a building spree and ran lines and connections that encouraged growth and water use.   A second problem is the lack of conservation and using other water sources, i.e.: Wells.   A third problem was not anticipating the impact of the drought and being prepared earlier than the Fall Months.   A fourth problem was the misuse and possible waste of water capacity.

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In the past, AVOC and the Media have talked about the first three problems.   AVOC has learned some information that Oconee Citizens probably do not know and our Bear Creek partners possibly did not know.

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Oconee County has been selling water to Walton County, via pipeline on U S Hwy 78, since the Bear Creek Reservoir came online in the Spring of 2002.   AVOC sources indicate that up to a Million Gallons a day was sold to Walton for a period exceeding five years..   The pumps that did serve Oconee were reversed at the Apalachee River to pump water to Walton.   Sources indicated that the sales were only stopped in late September 2007!   One rumor is that the county was selling “well water”!   The problem with that is that all the water is in the same tanks and waterlines.

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OCONEE WATER SALES TO WALTON COUNTY

WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY

May 2007-September 2007

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SOURCE: Invoices obtained from Oconee County Utility Department 10-5-07

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Billing Date

Amount

Gallons

No. of Days

4/27/2007

$ 23,241.63

     16,903,000

29

5/29/2007

$ 26,137.38

     19,009,000

29

6/28/2007

$ 15,582.05

     10,718,000

33

7/27/2007

$ 18,584.83

     12,383,000

30

8/28/2007

$ 23,194.88

     16,869,000

28

9/27/2007

$ 15,548.50

     11,308,000

34

TOTALS:

$ 122,289.27

     87,190,000

183

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AVOC has no problem with helping a neighboring county.   We went to Walton and Monroe Utilities around 1998 when we could not fill our tanks and Athens-Clarke County charged us retail rates.   As part of the arrangement with Walton, we negotiated with Gwinnett County (Wayne Hill and I were friends) to be the back up to Walton if they ran short with the Oconee connections.   It was to be a short-term thing until Bear Creek Reservoir came online.

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Sources have indicated that the price for Walton County purchases over the last five years was the same as the charge to Oconee earlier by Walton.   That sounds fair on the face of it.   However, the price was set about nine years ago and inflation and other factors have intervened.   Also, Walton is connected to the Gwinnett system which has plenty of water.

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An important question is the impact on Bear Creek Reservoir.   The Intergovernmental Agreement (Athens-Clarke, Barrow, Jackson and Oconee) provided that water sales would be subject to the agreement and approval of the other members.   Did our Bear Creek partners know about the Walton Sales and the amount of water going out of the four county area?

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Melvin Davis is Chairman of Bear Creek Water Authority- UOBWA

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Oconee Chairman Melvin Davis is also chairman of the UOBWA!However, many of his actions indicate misplaced loyalties.   That is not good for Oconee County and its future.

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History of Bear Creek Reservoir in following links:

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10-19-02 Bear Creek Reservoir & Treatment Plant Dedicated

9-14-02 Bear Creek Water Conservation Plan Out of Date

7-3-02 History - Bear Creek Reservoir is State Model & Result of Efforts of Many

5-24-02 Bear Creek Reservoir Attracts State-Wide Attention

9-26-02 Bear Creek Allocations Need Review

3-6-02 Bear Creek Project Almost Complete!!

8-29-02 Bear Creek and Water Sources are Critical- Clarke exceeding allotment

5-30-02 Bear Creek Water to Flow But Watch Out for Atlanta


Other relevant Links:

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1-23-02 Water needs of Jackson and Area Counties

5-17-06 Water is and will be more and more critical to Georgia’s future

2-15-06 Oconee County votes to withdraw from Walton deal and build own reservoir at Oconee River

Water Is a Precious But Under Appreciated Asset

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10-3-07 Oconee selling water to Walton County since Bear Creek Reservoir came online -2002

Oconee County BOC Meeting Minutes

March 5, 2002

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The Regular Meeting of the Oconee County Board of Commissioners was held on Tuesday, March 5, 2002, at 7:00 p.m., at the Commissioners Meeting Chambers, Oconee County Courthouse.

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            Members Present:                                 Chairman Melvin Davis

                                                                        Commissioner Johnny Pritchett

                                                                        Commissioner Donald H. Norris

                                                                        Commissioner Margaret S. Hale

                                                                        Commissioner William E. Wilkes

            .                                                          

Staff Present:                                       County Clerk Gina M. Lindsey

                                                                        Administrative Officer Jon Walker

                                                                        County Attorney Daniel Haygood

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Wayne Provost, County Planner

                                                                        Len Bernat, Operations Director

                                                                        Mike Leonas, County Engineer

                                                                        Dan Wilson, Assistant Engineer

                                                                        Gary Dodd, Utility Director

                                                                        .                                                                      

Media Present:                                      Vinnie Williams, The Oconee Enterprise

                                                            Sara Thuerk, Athens-Oconee Observer

                                                            Kevin Conner, Athens Banner-Herald

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Water Purchase Contract - Walton County Water and Sewerage Authority: On motion by Commissioner Wilkes and second by Commissioner Pritchett, the Board unanimously approved the Water Purchase Contract between Oconee County and Walton County Water and Sewerage Authority, to be effective when the meter has been turned around, which is to occur as soon as the water from the Bear Creek Reservoir is available.


Bear Creek Reservoir and Area Water Supply could be drained by Christmas

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The Athens Banner-Herald - October 4, 2007

http://onlineathens.com/stories/100407/news_20071004033.shtml

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Water supply could be drained by Christmas- Rations likely if drought persists

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By Blake Aued

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Athens-Clarke County will have to begin rationing water by Thanksgiving, and the Bear Creek Reservoir will run out of water by Christmas if the drought continues.

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A total outdoor watering ban and voluntary conservation measures have cut water consumption in Athens by almost 20 percent to 16.3 million gallons per day………….


4-20-07 Jackson County Water Authority Questions Oconee’s Costs at Bear Creek Reservoir

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The Jackson Herald- April 18, 2007

http://www.mainstreetnews.com/

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Water authority chafes· at Oconee County use of Jackson's capacity

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Authority gets no reimbursement while Oconee realizes cost savings

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The way the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority looks at its water bill from the Bear Creek Reservoir, something isn't right.

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The authority owns nine million gallons (mgd) a day of capacity in the water treatment plant and is using less than half of it, but its per-gallon cost is more than twice that of Oconee County, which paid for 4 mgd of capacity but is using 5mgd.

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The authority takes the view that Oconee County is using 1 mgd of Jackson County's treatment capac­ity and not only paying nothing for it but actually getting a volume discount because of it.

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In addition, because Oconee County has more than maxed out its share of the water treatment plant, the plant is being expanded, and Jackson County will have to foot part of the bill.

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"We don't have a need to spend money to expand Bear Creek," noted authority Chairman Hunter Bicknell last Thursday night. "It is not in our interest right now. We spent a whole lot of money to get the capacity we needed. Oconee County did not. Now they're in a bind. We don't know what our role should be to spend money for addi­tional capacity we don't need."

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The 21 mgd treatment plant is shared by Jackson, Oconee and Barrow counties. By virtue of negotiations years ago when coun­ties were projecting their needs, Jackson County owns 42.86 per­cent - 9 mgd - of the current plant. ………


Drought demonstrates leadership deficiencies in GA

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The Athens Banner-Herald - October 3, 2007                     COLUMN

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/100307/opinion_20071003035.shtml

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Drought highlights need for new political leadership in state

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By Bill Shipp

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The ongoing drought, seriously affecting 70 of the state's 159 counties, is a preview of a coming calamity. Suburbanites may soon pine for the days when only their lawn sprinklers were shut down. What will they say when the time comes - as it certainly will, with present dumb and dumber water policies - that laundry, dishwashing, baths, showers and toilet flushes will be strictly rationed?

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If Atlanta and environs hope to continue their boom, they must pump in water from less developed reaches of the state. Makes sense, doesn't it? Atlanta could become the Albuquerque of Dixie. No, it does not make sense, unless you've just started building shotgun houses in White County and discovered belatedly that snake-handling preachers do not know how to turn corn liquor into potable water.

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What does make sense is this: Plan to avoid running out of water. Induce metro developers to stop stacking one subdivision next to another with houses on smaller and smaller lots. Look for less developed areas for new homes and office buildings. Plan, plan, plan. Consider how much development and how many people our resources and infrastructure can comfortably accommodate.

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Georgians do not have to endure continued deterioration of our quality of life. We can nominate and elect a new breed of men and women. We can elect folks who think - and care.


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 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……..


The Athens Banner-Herald - March 21, 2002

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/032202/new_0322020032.shtml

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RDC calls for water study
Regional Development Center

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By Lee Shearer

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   The Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center's board of directors voted Thursday to begin a regional water resources management study for the 12-county region.
   The center is one of a series of regional agencies throughout the state that promote regional planning and economic development for local governments. The center's board includes the county commission chair of each county, a representative from a city in each county, and a private citizen from each county, appointed by elected officials.
   The new water study would update a similar study done by the center about 15 years ago when Clarke and several other county governments banded together to build a regional water supply reservoir……


The Athens Banner-Herald

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/011802/new_0118020016.shtml

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January 17, 2002

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Water springs up at RDC meeting talks

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By Lee Shearer

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   Water was the recurring theme when the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center's board of directors met Thursday afternoon.
   The regional planning agency's board adopted a draft resolution telling the state legislature that the state's Regional Development Centers are ''the most appropriate vehicle'' to assist in the development of a state water plan……………..

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Apalachee Withdrawal Approval

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The Athens Banner-Herald 3.3.03

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/030303/new_20030303018.shtml

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Oconee gets boost in battle for water
County to access Apalachee

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By Wayne Ford
wford@onlineathens.com

   WATKINSVILLE - Oconee County's effort to increase its water supply received a major boost last week when the state Environmental Protection Division prepared a draft permit for water withdrawal from the Apalachee River.
   The permit for 2.5 million gallons of water a day is dependent on the state receiving some additional information, which Oconee County Public Utilities Director Gary Dodd said is ……


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