OK for bonds puts reservoir on track

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
November 20, 2003

Charles Yoo

Union City, Fairburn and Palmetto now have the most important tool needed to build a reservoir: cash.

Officials of the south Fulton cities want a reservoir large enough to supply water to all three. Last week, the South Fulton Municipal Regional Water and Sewer Authority authorized a $41.65 million bond issue to pay for a 350-acre reservoir that could handle 13 million gallons of water.

The authority has identified the site and is negotiating to buy the land, most of which is owned by Carl Bouckaert, a carpet mogul in North Georgia whose 8,600 acres in south Fulton make him the area's top landowner. The authority has not yet released the price.
The reservoir, to be fed by Bear Creek, would be built somewhere below South Fulton Parkway near Ga. 70 in the Rico community.

The site is suitable, said engineer Charles Corbin, project manager for the authority. "It maximizes the amount of water that can be withdrawn from that particular basin," he said.

The cities have formed the South Fulton Municipal Regional Water and Sewer Authority because they want direct control over their water.

"These municipalities will determine the fate of their resources," said Union City Mayor Ralph Moore, chairman of the authority.

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

"This will give us long-term independence from the city of Atlanta," Fairburn Mayor Betty Hanna said. "We were going to have to look for water somewhere else."

Last year, the authority tried to persuade Fulton County to hand over a chunk of the 900-acre Cochran Mill Park for a reservoir, but later withdrew the plan.

According to authority estimates, Union City would use 54 percent of the water in the proposed reservoir, Fairburn 28 percent and Palmetto 18 percent.

Palmetto has a reservoir, but the authority would buy the facility for $2.1 million.

To build a reservoir, officials would flood 380 acres by building dams. It is envisioned that the supply will be enough for six times the current population of the three cities, which is estimated at more than 25,000.

A lengthy process awaits the authority. Government approval will require an environmental impact study, including wetlands and endangered species, and others studies.

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution