Funding authorized for S. Fulton reservoir
Three-city water agency approves bond sale

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
November 17, 2003

Charles Yoo

A proposed reservoir that would supply water to three growing cities in south Fulton is inching toward reality.

The South Fulton Municipal Regional Water and Sewer Authority -- created three years ago as a joint effort of Fairburn, Union City and Palmetto -- has authorized a $41.65 million bond sale to fund the creation of the reservoir.

The state Environmental Protection Division and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would have to approve the reservoir plan before construction could begin.

The authority is negotiating to buy land in the southernmost part of the county for the 350-acre reservoir that would hold 13 million gallons of water. The site it has in mind is a property mostly owned by Carl Bouckaert, a carpet mogul in North Georgia who owns 8,600 acres and is the biggest landowner in south Fulton.

Bouckaert's land is also a site for one of three planned massive villages proposed by a nonprofit group of landowners known as the Chattahoochee Hill Country Alliance. The water authority has not yet released the price of the land.

The reservoir will go somewhere below South Fulton Parkway, near Ga. 70 in the Rico community. The land is fed by Bear Creek.

"What these communities are doing is looking for a long supply of [water] that will carry them through 2050," said Charles Corbin, project manager for the authority.

At present, Atlanta sells water to Fairburn and Union City, while Palmetto's own water system is aging and in need of refurbishment.

The Atlanta City Council will vote on Monday on a rate increase that could triple water and sewer bills, as part of the $3.2 billion plan to fix and upgrade the city's sewer system.

"Those problems will transfer to the citizens of Union City and Fairburn, and we feel that [the cities] should have a greater control of water," said Ralph Moore, mayor of Union City and chairman of the authority.

Last year, the authority withdrew its plan to create a reservoir in nearby Cochran Mill Park by flooding a part of the 900-acre park owned by Fulton County.

By state law, the authority could only sell water to residents of the three cities after the reservoir is built.

However, Stacy Patton, president of the Chattahoochee Hill Country Alliance, said the group wants to lobby state legislators to change the law so that Fulton residents outside the cities could be supplied as well. Most of the homes in Chattahoochee Hill Country are welled.

"The state legislation needs to be changed for water," she said. "A lot of communities would like public water."

The group has received government grants and is planning to conserve 40,000 acres of rural land by corralling growth into three proposed villages.

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution