Construction resumes at Tussahaw Reservoir

Tractors have replaced lawyers in the long-fought process to build the Tussahaw Reservoir in Henry County. 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.

Nov 10th, 2003

Environmental groups drop lawsuit

McDonough, Ga., Nov. 10, 2003 -- Tractors have replaced lawyers in the long-fought process to build the Tussahaw Reservoir in Henry County. 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.

However, on August 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," says 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 (1) a preliminary injunction, (2) a temporary restraining order, and (3) a summary judgment, regarding the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of 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 judgment for that of the agency's when considering highly technical data that become the basis of a permit award," says the Court's 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 Federal Court ruling, as the HCWSA works overtime to provide additional drinking water capacity for customer demands, which could exceed the current supply by 2005, says Lindy Farmer, general manager of the HCWSA.

"We're very confident that the project will be able to progress on schedule from now on as we work to provide the much needed water supply for our growing customer base," says Farmer.

The reservoir project comes at a time when Henry County is experiencing unprecedented growth. The population growth in Henry County 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 the year 2027. The heart of the Tussahaw construction project is expected to take 24 to 30 months, depending on weather and other factors.

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