Bear Creek Water Supply Reservoir

STATEMENT OF ISSUE: The Newton County Board of Commissioners (Board) proposes to construct a dam to impound approximately 1,242 acres of water.  The primary purpose of the impoundment is to serve as a pump storage water supply reservoir for Newton County residents.  The reservoir would be supplemented by pumping up to 35 million gallons per day (MGD) from the Alcovy River. The safe yield of the reservoir will be a maximum of 28 MGD for the County to meet the total projected demand of 47 MGD for a projected 2050 county population of 361,517. 

BACKGROUND: On November 19, 2007, the Board submitted a revised standard individual permit application proposing impacts to 136 acres of wetlands and 24 miles (126,720 linear feet) of streams.  A Joint Public Notice was published on January 9, 2008.  Based on re-delineation of all aquatic resources at the site in 2013, proposed project impacts to jurisdictional waters have been reduced to 35.38 acres of wetlands and 121,472 feet of stream. 

By letter dated April 3, 2008, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recommended the permit be denied and provided additional comments pursuant to Part IV, paragraph 3(b) of our 1992 Memorandum of Agreement developed pursuant to Section 404(q) of the Clean Water Act. This maintains their right to elevate Savannah District’s decision on the project. On February 1, 2013, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division issued the surface water withdrawal permit and Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the project. 

The applicant submitted a revised mitigation plan on July 25, 2014, and draft review comments have been prepared.  On September 2, 2014, the applicant submitted a request to modify the permit application to shift the proposed dam location approximately 2,200 linear feet upstream of the original proposed location, and to construct a water treatment plant and finished water transmission pipeline.  A Joint Public Notice was issued on September 4, 2014, advertising the proposed modification.

CURRENT STATUS:  Savannah District held a meeting with the applicant on February 13, 2015, to discuss the current purpose and need for the project, updated population projections, and other outstanding issues related to the project. The District is currently reviewing the downstream impact modeling data received on February 23, 2015, to determine if additional modeling will be required.  Attempts are also being made to resolve issues raised in the USEPA’s Section 404(q) b letter prior to completion of the Environmental Assessment for the project. 

DISTRICT POC:  Adam White, Piedmont Branch, Regulatory Division, (678) 422-2730.