New delay for lake: dredging permit needed to continue

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    Peachtree City residents who are displeased with the unsightly nature of the lowered Lake Peachtree are going to be disheartened.

    While the county was hoping to swiftly order up a dredging operation necessary to remove silt, a snag has occurred. Regulators have decided that permits will be necessary and that will surely extend the timeline for the dredging operation.

    The county, which uses the city-owned lake as a reservoir, has refrained from refilling the lake because of significant structural problems with the spillway. Those problems were discovered nearly two months after the county lowered the lake as planned in February to allow nearby residents to conduct dock and shore maintenance.

    Fayette County Commission Chairman Steve Brown, in a letter Thursday to the mayor and city council of Peachtree City, has promised that the county will continue to communicate with city officials regarding the status of Lake Peachtree.

    Last week, the city council watched a high-definition video of a camera snaking underneath the spillway through a crack. The footage showed a cavern-like environment under the concrete surface of the spillway, which calls into question whether the spillway would hold if the lake were to be refilled.

    The city and county have an agreement dating back to the late 1960s, with several modifications, that requires the county to maintain the dam and spillway in exchange for being allowed to use the lake as a drinking water reservoir.

    Brown in his letter to city officials said the county “intends to honor its agreement.” and that “an open line of communication” would be kept with the city.

    “As of the last update from (County Administrator Steve) Rapson, nothing further has been received from the state, and the project timeline as set out in the June 2, 2014 email remains on track concerning the spillway and refilling of Lake Peachtree,” Brown wrote.

    Brown noted that the county, as the city has requested, “is moving forward with all deliberate speed to adequately address the dredging issue.”

    “Fayette County agrees it will require input from Peachtree City to arrive at a solution which is satisfactory to all concerned,” Brown said in the letter.

    Since it is a certainty the lake level will be down for at least two more months if not more, the city has asked the county to proceed with dredging the lake. That process involves the removal of silt and dirt that has accumulated on the lake bottom.

    At last week’s council meeting, Councilman Eric Imker took the county to task for taking so long to resolve the issue, even though the immediate delay is due to a key ruling due from state water regulators.

    Instead of waiting for that ruling, Imker argued that the county should design a more intensive (and costly) repair plan for the dam in case the state determines such is necessary. Imker added that he knew the county would prefer the cheaper scenario.

    The city has retained the services of a private attorney due to the contractual obligations outlined in the contract that allows the county to withdraw water from the lake.

    Councilman Mike King last week questioned whether the contract requires the county to conduct periodic inspections of the dam and spillway.

    It also has been noted that the city must check under nearby Kelly Drive to make sure it is structurally sound as well, given that the likely culprit of the cavern underneath the spillway is erosion.