The Covington News - - Lo­cal news -

“We’re­wait­ing on the Corps to tell us what they think are the out­stand­ing is­sues that need to be re­solved to get the per­mit go­ing,” Carter said. “The ball is in their court right now.”

The Corps of En­gi­neers was un­able to pro­vide a sta­tus up­date on the per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion as the staff with knowl­edge of the ap­pli­ca­tion were out on hol­i­day leave.

Kevin Far­rell, as­sis­tant branch chief for the state En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Divi­sion’s Wa­ter­shed Pro­tec­tion Branch said his agency had re­cently sent a let­ter to New­ton County ask­ing for some ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about the an­tic­i­pated en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fects of the reser­voir and was wait­ing for a re­sponse.

“There hasn’t been a lot of re­cent di­a­logue on the topic,” he said, Adding, “Your call prompts me to look into some of this stuff.”

The reser­voir is in­tended to serve, along with Lake Varner and City Pond, a pro­jected county pop­u­la­tion of 375,000 by 2050. The pro­posed site of the reser­voir is di­rectly down­stream from Hen­der­son Mill Road Bridge where it crosses Bear Creek in the south­east­ern end of the county. Once com­plete the reser­voir will en­com­pass 1,242 acres.

Carter said the county has taken steps to ad­dress some of the Corps’ con­cerns with the project by among other things au­tho­riz­ing a new study of the cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal re­sources of the area that the reser­voir will di­rectly im­pact.

That study will up­date an ear­lier one first un­der­taken by the county nearly 10 years ago. The Ge­or­gia His­toric Preser­va­tion Divi­sion re­quested a reeval­u­a­tion of the his­toric build­ings and struc­tures of the reser­voir im­pact area be­cause the stan­dards used to as­sess his­toric re­sources in the first study have changed sig­nif­i­cantly since then. The cost of the study is $11,500.

The Bear Creek Reser­voir was first con­ceived of in 1996 but due to a num­ber of fac­tors in­clud­ing a failed col­lab­o­ra­tion at­tempt with Jasper County and a sea of bu­reau­cratic red tape, progress on the reser­voir has been in fits and starts. In March, the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency rec­om­mended to the Corps that they deny the county’s per­mit re­quest.

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