Lake Peachtree’s future in doubt?

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    Rapson: County may not need lake as water source; report on spillway repair in 3 weeks; no word yet on costs

    There should be an answer in about three weeks as to what actions are needed to repair the spillway to Lake Peachtree, which has kept the lake level low several months.

    But a new question has arisen: does the Fayette County Water System even need to use the signature city landmark as a reservoir anymore?

    Fayette County officials are awaiting a report on the spillway matter from Golden Associates, a nationally-renowned engineering firm contracted to assist in the spillway review, according to County Administrator Steve Rapson.

    Once the report is back, a recommendation for repairs and projected costs will be available along with a timeframe. But the report may also shed light as to whether the county even needs to use Lake Peachtree as a drinking water source anymore, Rapson said.

    Still another matter to be sorted out at that point is how much the county and city will pay toward the repairs, Rapson noted.

    The lake is owned by the city but an agreement allows the county to use it as a raw drinking water source. In return, the county pays for the lake to be dredged about every 10 years to remove silt and sediment and preserve the lake’s storage capacity.

    As any observer from the shore can attest, the dry lake areas have revealed that the level of the muck and mud normally on the lake bottom is quite high … and as such, the lake is perhaps overdue for a thorough dredging.

    The county has discussed potential dredging options including the use of a barge system with the lake full, or by draining the lake via a traditional dredging that would allow the dredging results to be visually inspected as opposed to use of radar-type technology to view under the full lake’s surface. No time line has been set for the dredging to commence, however.

    Golden, working with the county’s consulting engineer CH2M Hill, is expected to review the lake’s current status and provide a recommendation for the necessary repairs needed going forward, Rapson said.

    Rapson said he understands the frustration of residents about the sad shape of the lake since it remains unfilled.

    “I get it. I drive by the lake everyday too,” said Rapson who is a Peachtree City resident himself.

    However, the county can’t fill the lake if it creates a potential hazard, Rapson said. In this case the worry is that if the spillway malfunctions it could cause significant if not severe flooding downstream.

    “I try to avoid panic until we know there’s something to panic about,” Rapson said.

    Whatever repair is proposed must be approved by the Safe Dams arm of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. In the meantime Safe Dams officials are evaluating whether or not the lake should be classified as a category 1 or category 2 dam.

    The rules are far more stringent on category 1 dams, which are defined as having the “probably loss of human life” if the dam were to fail or be operated improperly.

    The city has the upcoming Rotary Dragon Boat International Festival scheduled for Lake Peachtree, but the county stands ready to have the event hosted at Lake Kedron, Lake Horton or Lake McIntosh if necessary, Rapson said.

    “No one has asked about that yet,” Rapson said, noting that EPD would have to approve such a change. EPD did sign off on moving the recent city triathlon event to Lake McIntosh, Rapson added.