Construction Resumes After Fight to End Building of Georgia Reservoir

Oct. 17, 2003

Tractors have replaced lawyers in the long-fought process to build the Tussahaw Reservoir in Henry County, Ga. Work has resumed at the site in an effort to make up for time lost when the project appeared on the dockets of both state and federal courts.

On Aug. 8, U.S. District Judge Jack Camp ruled in favor of the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority (HCWSA) and their proposed reservoir on the Tussahaw Creek. The Georgia River Network and the Altamaha Riverkeepers, the plaintiffs in the suit, have decided not to appeal. Thus, according to reports of the Southern Environmental Law Group, the final barrier standing in the way of the much-needed reservoir has been cleared.

"We have felt confident from the outset that the law was on our side," said A.J. "Buddy" Welch, legal counsel for the HCWSA. "We're just happy that the court's rulings can now stand and the construction can progress without further interruption."

This recent civil action by the environmental groups included three motions for a preliminary injunction, a temporary restraining order and a summary judgement regarding the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps Engineers to HCWSA for construction of the Tussahaw Reservoir. Judge Camp denied all three of these motions by the plaintiffs.

"The court cannot substitute its judgement for that of the agency's when considering highly technical data that become the basis of a permit award," reported the ruling. "Where the issues involved require a high level of technical expertise, they are properly left to the agency's informed discretion."

Construction has continued on the site since the ruling, as the HCWSA works overtime to provide additional drinking water capacity for customer demands, which could exceed the current supply by 2005.

The project comes at a time when Henry County is experiencing growth. The population growth is the third fastest growing county in the country. The new reservoir and adjoining water treatment plant will yield 23.6 million gallons of water per day to Henry County residents.

This additional water should meet the needs of the county until 2027.

The heart of the construction project is expected to take 24 to 30 months, depending on weather and other factors.

Source: Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority