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12-16-07 Wells (water) have important place in our memory and in Oconee’s past, present & future

My grandparents, Cliff and Hassie Dawson, (Mama Hassie and Daddy Cliff) lived in the main or home house where we later lived on Cliff Dawson Road. There was a Well Shelter (wood shingles roof) in the back yard. I saw many a bucket of water drawn from that well. I remember a gourd dipper kept in a pocket on a well shelter post. Many people, including myself, enjoyed a cool drink of water from that gourd dipper! On hot days, I remember seeing some drink directly from the well bucket while it was still dripping!

AVOC

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December 15, 2007

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Wells (water) have important place in our memory and in Oconee’s past, present & future

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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Our current struggles with drought and water needs brought some things to mind:  1. The importance of Wells to Oconee County throughout its history and its prominence in the Oconee County of today; and 2. George Satayana said that "Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.”

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My earliest memory recalls the well, windless and well bucket.   I was born in a little frame house on Daniells Bridge Road that had a well.  Later, as an infant and until my mid-teen years, we lived in a frame house on the Dawson Homeplace on a dirt road which is now known as Cliff Dawson Road.We moved into the “big house” in 1954 after my grandfather died and my grandmother had been diagnosed with leukemia.   We would draw water from the well in a bucket and “tote” it to the house.   It was kept in a Water Bucket with a dipper to use for cooking and for bathing.   We had “running” water after WW II ended and the economy was booming.   Bathrooms came later.

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My grandparents, Cliff and Hassie Dawson, (Mama Hassie and Daddy Cliff) lived in the main or home house where we later lived on Cliff Dawson Road.   There was a Well Shelter (wood shingles roof) in the back yard.   I saw many a bucket of water drawn from that well.   I remember a gourd dipper kept in a pocket on a well shelter post.   Many people, including myself, enjoyed a cool drink of water from that gourd dipper!   On hot days, I remember seeing some drink directly from the well bucket while it was still dripping!

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Mama Hassie and Daddy Cliff ca 1939

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Dawson Homeplace Well Shelter

Mama Hassie, her dog, Connie and Boss Joe beside the Well shelter in 1954 before moving to her “new house” where Becky now lives.

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Mama Hassie and Daddy Cliff raised 10 children and supplied water for a large farming operation from that well for decades.Before that my Great-Grandfather, Young Henderson Daniell, used well water for family and farm purposes.   In later years, my Dad had a second well bored beside the old one because of water level dropping from drought.However, that new well was covered and not used and the old well just kept producing.     Some folks kept milk and food cool in the summer by lowering it in buckets into their well.

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Mama Hassie standing by mantel with pictures of grandchildren in 1954 (Picture on left shows two of my brothers and me)

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News media has reported the resurgence of wells in Northeast GA in recent months.   The two regional hospitals in the Athens area have drilled wells for backup.Lawrenceville and (I believe Roswell) are getting old wells ready to use.   Oconee County has announced that it will be looking to “lease” wells from private individuals to meet water needs if needed.Oconee has an inventory of wells in various places along its water system network.

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Oconee County acquired many wells in the 80’s and 90’s.   For thirty years, all subdivisions were built with “Community Water Systems” fed by wells.   For 20 or more years, as an Attorney, I worked with Water and Well Companies in well contracts and Water Service Agreements for subdivisions in Oconee County.   GA EPD had a community well program and monitored such systems and agreements.

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I accompanied clients to Atlanta to talk to Groundwater Folks at GA EPD.  We developed a Water Service Agreement that became a model for Oconee County Subdivisions, NEGA and around the state.    Around 1990, a citizens committee helped us look for water sources because our only water from surface sources was a contract with Athens that was pretty one-sided.  We heard presentations on Well Fields from the State Geologist and others.   The County drilled wells and bought more.

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Hundreds if not thousands of wells have been drilled in Oconee County since the 1950’s.

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We had two big pumping wells (over 100 gallons per minute) at Hillcrest and at Tramalin acres.   We acquired a good one on Luke-Gear Road at Bogart.   One well, at Skipstone, had high iron and manganese content.  Those minerals cause discoloration but constitute little or no threat to health.   Filters and other devices were used to “treat” the water.   After we ran water lines, we connected wells to the system and that diluted the wells with the mineral problem.   Wells led the modern development of Oconee County in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.   I saw them as a great asset and we had capacity of approximately 2 MGD at the end of 2000.   We expected the wells to continue to be an important component of the County’s water sources.

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Some Oconee officials have described some negative aspects of wells.(See Excerpt from OCUD Newsletter below).   Many of us (Ole Timers) read this with skepticism.   Many of us have lived lifetimes on well water.   Until recent years, almost everyone in Oconee County used wells as a water supply.   At least 2 of the County Commissioners have wells and others grew up on wells.   The same can be said about the Oconee Citizens Drought Committee (see below).

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Yes, wells have been an important and critical part of our past and will be so in the future.    We all are learning to appreciate the limitations on water supplies for Oconee County, NEGA, Metro-Atlanta and really all of North GA.   The Chattahoochee is a small river (looks like a farm branch at Helen) to be supplying the Metropolitan Area of Atlanta.   The same can be said for other streams in North Georgia that become larger as they exit this area headed for the Oceans.

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Reservoirs alone cannot solve our water problems.   Wells will continue to be an important component of North Georgia’s Water Supply.   South Georgia has artesian wells and can have a much larger supply from wells.


For More on Homeplace, SEE:

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9-23-05 Josiah Daniell, Farm Boy & WW I Hero of Oconee County, Georgia

7-15-04 The Dawson "Homeplace” on Cliff Dawson Road- Oconee County -PART 1

7-19-04 More History of Dawson Homeplace in Oconee County, Georgia


Oconee Utility Department Well Statement in Fall 2007 Newsletter

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The Reservoir

A Quarterly Newsletter from Oconee County Utility Department

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Fall/Winter 2008

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What Can Be Expected from Well Water If The Need Arises?

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With this historic drought upon us, the Oconee County Utility Department may have to utilize a number of groundwater wells we currently own or lease, to supplement Bear Creek supplies. What can you expect from these wells being brought online and how will it change your water quality? Based on past experience with some wells in the county, the filtering of Iron and Manganese will be our biggest· challenge. The EPA Secondary Drinking Water Regulations recommend a maximum of .3 of one part per million of Iron and .05 for Manganese due to staining that higher concentrations can cause.

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Should circumstances warrant and we are forced to bring wells on line, the Utility Department is committed to a filtering regimen for any well that might have a higher than acceptable concentration of either of these minerals. All wells that are under consideration have either already been tested or will be tested by the EPD to meet their rigorous standards as a drinking water source. Water from wells will also normally have more minerals in it, so typically, the water will be somewhat "hard" (You will need more soap to get the same sudsing action as before). However, the water will be free from bacteria and a strict testing regimen will be instituted to test not only for bacteria, but chlorine and Ph levels as well. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Division will be strictly reviewing all operations and testing procedures to ensure that Oconee County complies with all State and Federal Drinking Water Standards. Please rest assured that the Oconee County Utility Department is committed to providing you with safe and reliable drinking water and is making contingency planning a high priority.

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Oconee County Drought Contingency Committee

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            Sonia Adsit                   Mack Guest

            Mildred Bell                   Henry Hibbs

            Gary Dodd                    Chris McClintock

            John Glisson                  Charles Osborn

            Bill Ross


12.14.07 Athens Regional and St Mary’s Hospitals looking to wells as water source

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The Athens Banner-Herald

http://onlineathens.com/stories/121407/news_20071214067.shtml

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December 14, 2007

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Wells to back up hospitals

Drought fears

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By Blake Aued

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Fears that Athens will run out of water are drying up, but the city's hospitals aren't taking any chances.

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Both Athens Regional Medical Center and St. Mary's Hospital have drilled wells to make sure they have enough water to continue to provide medical care in the event that the city water supply runs dry.

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"Shutting down the hospitals due to lack of water is not an alternative," Athens Regional CEO John Drew said.

Athens Regional long has had a well on the hospital campus that produces about 60,000 to 100,000 gallons of nonpotable water per day and is used to run the hospital's boiler and cooling system, Drew said………

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Saturday, well-diggers drilled down 548 feet and hit water near the hospital's new parking deck. Engineers haven't tested the well yet, so no one is sure how good the water quality is or how much the well can produce, but it's likely to be enough to replace the 100,000 gallons a day ARMC buys from the Athens-Clarke Public Utilities Department, Drew said.

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Administrators still are deciding whether to cap the well and save it for an emergency, or to go ahead and get a permit, build a small treatment plant and begin pumping water out of it, he said.

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St. Mary's drilled its well a couple of months ago and recently applied to Athens-Clarke County for permission to build a pump house. St. Mary's administrators also are discussing drilling a well at the Highland Hills retirement community and hospice the hospital owns, hospital spokesman Mark Ralston said.

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Once the pump house is completed in late February or early March, the well will be capable of providing 120 gallons of water per minute, Ralston……………..


Metro Area Counties looking at contingency plans for water

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2007/12/04/dirtywater1204.html

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December 4, 2007

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Low lake levels drain suppliers' resources
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By Ken Foskett

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The ever-receding water levels at both Lake Allatoona and Lake Lanier are pushing drinking water suppliers toward extraordinary measures to keep metro Atlanta's drinking water flowing and fit to drink.

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In September, Cobb County officials dispatched divers to the bottom of the drinking water intake tower on Lake Allatoona. The officials needed to know if the fourth and lowest intake gate, unused since the tower was built in the mid-1960s, still functioned 40 years later.

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They won't know until the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers lets them dredge away the muck and sediment that's blocking the lower gate.

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Cobb officials have another contingency plan: running temporary pipes to a deeper part of the lake about a mile away.

"We have another month to two months to decide if we need to take that step," said Glenn Page, general manager of the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority.

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The drought is challenging the ability of some treatment plants to draw water, as levels dip close to intake gates, and its myriad consequences are driving up the amount of chemical manipulation needed to make the water potable.

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The additional measures don't come cheap. The Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority, supplying drinking water to most of Atlanta's northwestern suburbs, spent an additional $00,000 on chemicals this summer.

They estimate it will cost $ 600,000 to run temporary pipes to deeper water in Lake Allatoona, should that be necessary, plus monthly operating expenses of $ 250,000.

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Last week, Cumming water officials in Forsyth County began dredging around their intake point on Lake Lanier to access deeper water.

The two- to four-week project will cost about $ 1 million, officials say.

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Besides creating worries about sufficient quantity, the low water levels have complicated the purification process.

Water treatment managers have been coping with swings in water quality, requiring different strategies to eliminate odors, make the water clear and ensure that it's safe to drink……………


Information on Wells and water Quality

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Water Quality of Drinking Water Wells in Georgia

Dr. Paul R. Vendrell, UGA, Ag and Environ. Services Labs - October 20, 2003

http://srwqis.tamu.edu/proceedings/downloads/vendrell.pdf

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Drinking Water & Human Health In Georgia

http://srwqis.tamu.edu/states/georgia/drinkingwater.aspx

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Testing for Water Quality

http://www.engr.uga.edu/service/extension/publications/c819-9c.html

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Georgia Water Wells Standards Act 1985

http://www.greeneswaterwells.com/WaterWellStandardsAct.html

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Is my Well Water Safe?

http://health.state.ga.us/pdfs/hazards/Wellwater_bro.pdf

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Georgia Environmental Protection Division warns private wells might be impacted by the drought

BY MJ KNEISER WNEG Radio/Special to the Independent-Mail
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

http://www.independentmail.com/news/2007/nov/06/georgia-environmental-protection-division-warns-pr/

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WATER WELL STANDARDS ADVISORY COUNCIL

http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/cgi-bin/page.cgi?g=WATER_WELL_STANDARDS_ADVISORY_COUNCIL%2Findex.html&d=1

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The messy job of drilling a well

http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/gwdrilldirty1.html



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