There has been a lot written about Lake Peachtree and it has begun to resemble a made for television drama with lots of speculation floating in the air.
I think it is obvious by now that some patience will be required on everyone’s part as all of the parties — county, city and state — work their way through the process.
From the local government perspective, we are all rolling with the punches at this point. Initially, the county government, through the county’s water system, was all geared-up to dredge Lake Peachtree with water in the lake, referred to as wet dredging.
The water level had been lowered at the request of the homeowners on the western side of the lake so that they could perform repair work to their docks and sea walls.
Problems were detected with the lake’s spillway that required immediate attention. At that point, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Environmental Protection Division became involved and we began what has been a lengthy process to remedy that situation. You may recall that Peachtree City and Fayette County recently received a letter from the state saying the dam/spillway has been classified as a “Category I” structure, meaning more planning, more expense and more structure required.
There is an appeals process where the Category I status can be challenged. Since Peachtree City owns Lake Peachtree and the dam/spillway, they would have to issue the call for the appeal. In turn, the county has committed to assist the city with that appeal should the mayor and council choose to go that route. Representatives from the city and county will be meeting soon.
In the meantime, the state has made it clear that we cannot fill the lake until the dam/spillway issue is resolved. Upon learning the new edict from the state, the county then began moving to gain the necessary plans and permits to dredge the lake without the presence of water, referred to as dry dredging.
As soon as we gain clearance from the state, the county will begin the process of performing a dry dredging, but we have to follow the required steps to get there.
Please know that the dam/spillway challenge is not a quick fix and will involve a considerable amount of time to engineer and construct if the structure remains a Category I.
Keep in mind that in all instances, the lake falls under the state’s regulatory framework and those procedures must be followed without exception. Following those procedures takes time.
To quell the rumors, I can assure you the city has no plans to do anything with that site other than repair the infrastructure, refill the lake and give the citizens back a beautiful amenity built to state regulations, safer than before. The county government is working alongside the city government to move the project to fruition.
Up to this point, I have seen no reason for anxiety. Government infrastructure projects like roads, new buildings and lakes take time to complete. Yes, the dam/spillway problem was unexpected, but there is nothing with that situation that cannot be resolved as long as we follow the state’s procedures and regulations.
The county has had a history of providing drinking water to local citizens from the city-owned lake for over 40 years. That collaborative effort has endured through written agreement, including a multitude of elected officials over that span.
The new Lake McIntosh, county-owned, is taking over from Lake Peachtree, becoming the primary water source because of its much larger capacity. All citizens of Fayette County have a great deal to be proud of when it comes to how we manage our water resources and plan for the future.
Sufficient water capacity for the future is often overlooked, but it is an essential component for maintaining our quality of life and attracting new economic opportunities to Fayette County.
Do the reconstruction of the dam/spillway the right way and for the next 40 to 50 years, our citizens will have nothing to worry about.
Do not hesitate to call or email with questions or concerns. I hope everyone is having a great summer with their families.
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Brown is the chairman of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners.]