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12-8-10 Oconee Water Plans and Financial Challenges of Hard Labor Creek Project – Part 2

….projects often start out small but grow in size along with consultant fees; Costs also start low and often end up considerably more than originally projected. Gainesville Times -10.12.10 ……(Hard Labor Creek Project-……………….“They (HLC) use a lot more land and they didn’t have the foresight or luxury of buying all the land on the front end,” Craig said. . AVOC Three Part Series . Part 1: HLC Background Information – Financial Commitments Part 2: Challenges for Hard Labor Creek and Hall County’s Glade Project; Part 3: HLC Project is basically stalled with limited information on how and when it will proceed – with slowed growth and development. .



December 7, 2010


Challenges for Hard Labor Creek and Hall County’s Glade Project – Part 2


Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc


The Hall County Glade Project 401 Permit Consultant is Attorney Tommy Craig who was also involved in the Hard Labor Creek Project and other reservoirs- not all of which have been successful.   


Covington Attorney Tommy Craig at Glade Reservoir Public Hearing in Hall County – Oct 2010


AVOC has received some information on possible financial challenges for Attorney Tommy Craig who has been involved in many large reservoir projects.    An IRS tax lien was filed in Newton County in March 2010 for over $ 400,000.Other details are not known at this time.   Craig.T.IRS.941.Tax.Lien.Newton.Cty.3.10.pdf x


Some observers have noticed that some common characteristics of Craig projects seem to be:


            1.       Starts out small but grows in size along with consultant fees; 

                      Costs  also start low and often end up considerably more than originally projected.                                               Gainesville Times -10.12.10

            2.         Project may not be capable of the output that was considered and pursued, i.e.                                                     Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County;

            3.         Later problems are often labeled by Mr. Craig as the fault of others;                                                            http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/41683/


Various articles on the Glade and Hard Labor Creek Projects have quoted Oconee County & Walton Officials.   There appears to be a widely held belief in “water circles” that Hard Labor Creek is in financial difficulty.   Subdivision growth is way down in Walton and Oconee Counties and is not expected to boom anytime soon.Yet, bond payments must be made.   Oconee County has already raised water rates to deal with some of the problems.   4-23-10 Water and Growth projections and decisions have consequences for Oconee County

11-21-10 Reliance on future growth risky for reservoir projects.pdfx


The Gainesville Times - November 21, 2010



Reliance on future growth risky for reservoir projects

By Melissa Weinman mweinman@gainesvilletimes.com


Tommy Craig, the attorney who secured the federal 404 permit for the Hard

Labor reservoir, is also working toward a permit for the Glades Reservoir.Craig

said the two projects are different and he doesn’t believe the Glades Reservoir

will encounter any of the same issues.


……………….“They (HLC) use a lot more land and they didn’t have the foresight or luxury of buying all the land on the front end,” Craig said.


….Oconee County Finance Director Jeff Benko said the county is paying for the first

phase of the reservoir with a $ 19.5 million revenue bond. “You hope when the economy turns around, your customers grow. As you add additional customers, they’ll be paying a fee,” Benko said…..

…..Lee Becker, a professor of journalism at the University of Georgia, has kept close tabs on the project. He believes the situation is more alarming than officials let on.


“The project was built on population growth and water growth projections that are simply unrealistic in today’s economy,” Becker said. “The figures that they used were really suspect under the best of circumstances.” Becker said as the recent drought and recession have shown, no growth projections are fool proof.


“The real issue is (Oconee) county has decided that the way it will finance its development is through future development,” Becker said. “The collapse of the housing market is real. That’s not something that was anticipated. Everything now is presuming that the housing market will come back in some relatively short order, and I don’t know that’s the case.”


Craig said growth projections for Hall County are more reliable because of the area’s proximity to the interstate highway system.


“I really think it’s foolish to say you’re not going to grow,” Craig said. “Your need for water supply and your tap fees will probably be constant.”


Benko said it’s important to plan for the future but to expect challenges like drought and recession. “I don’t have the crystal ball but I will tell you that if you’re not expecting somewhere in the future for it to happen again, you’ve got your head in the sand,” Benko said.

Gainesville Times -10.12.10


Need to move quickly on Glades


….Tommy Craig, an attorney specializing in reservoir permitting, gave a presentation

on the history and current status of the proposed 850-acre, 80-million-gallon per

day reservoir in North Hall.


Small beginning but evolved to 80 mgpd……...

In 2009, county officials submitted a permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for

permission to build Glades Reservoir and withdraw 6.7 million……

AccessNorthGA -10-12-10


Consultants for 401 permit process are expensive

…..the permitting team led by attorney Tommy Craig detailed the work and planning so far on getting that Corps of Engineers permit;

      Craig said now is the time. Oliver said total project cost and possible future water

rates should not be the concern now. The concern should be making sure Hall County

gets the permit.

   “We have a window here in which we can get a 404 permit and that allows us to build

this reservoir for the next ten years,” Oliver said. “We’re going to spend several million

dollars, the consultant’s fee is $ 1.5-million, that’s what we’ve budgeted so far. The

details on how big the dam is going to be and how much it’s going to cost will be worked

out later, but if you don’t have the permit nothing else matters.”

     Craig estimated if all goes well Hall could get the permit by early 2012, the year federal

Judge Paul Magnuson’s ruling to cut Lake Lanier off as a water supply would take effect.

At completion the dam and reservoir could cost $ 345-million for a facility that

would be 123 feet…….

7-29-10 Important Water Issues for area - Jackson County wins appeal in Reservoir Lawsuit

Court of Appeals upholds reservoir lawsuit ruling - Jackson Herald -Wednesday, July 21. 2010


Jackson County’s suit was met by a Motion to Dismiss by the Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority.A local Superior Court Judge did not grant the motion to dismiss.   Recently, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the judge’s ruling.…..

…….. Oconee County made a huge mistake in getting involved with the Hard Labor Creek Project in Walton County.    Treatment facilities and supply lines were already in place and owned at Bear Creek Reservoir in Jackson County……