The Atlanta City Council has been asked by Republic Resources Inc. of Atlanta, an industrial developer, to sell a 10,000-acre tract of land in Dawson County for the construction of a 2,000-acre water reservoir. Water would be pumped from the Etowah to fill the reservoir and then sent to Atlanta and north Fulton County.
The council's transportation committee was to take up the issue last month, but a vote was postponed. Republic Resources officials did not return a call for comment by deadline.
The Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area is owned by the City of Atlanta. The city purchased the land almost 40 years ago as a potential site for another airport. It is managed by the Georgia Forestry Commission and currently is used as recreational area for hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists.
Joe Cook, executive director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative based in Rome, said the project would mean a daily 100 million-gallon decrease in the amount of water flowing down the Etowah River.
"It is not an equitable, fair or just use of the resource. It is taking away from one community to giving to another community," he said. "People in Canton should be very concerned."
Despite this potential flow decrease in the Etowah - Cherokee County's main source of water - local officials said it should not impact water supplies.
Cole Blackwell, manager of the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir in Canton, which is filled primarily by the Etowah, the city's ability to fill its reservoir would not be greatly affected.
"It would reduce the number of days we could run our pumps," he said, though added the pumps would not have to run every day anyway.
He said the project also could result in a "higher probability" of releases form the reservoir during low flow months.
Tom Heard, general manager of the Cherokee County Water and Sewerage Authority, said the authority has not been officially informed about the project.
"We are not against it or for it. We would just like more information," he said.
Buzz Ahrens, chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, said he did not think the project would "dry us up."
"We got a pretty good flow," he said about the water supply, though added that Atlanta officials have not contacted local leaders about the project.