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Hard Labor Creek reservoir again a possibility for Winder

WINDER - Plans to create a new reservoir as a water source for the city of Winder and two counties are again being discussed, with the settlement of a lawsuit that had kept the project on hold.

The Hard Labor Creek Reservoir, which would be used by Walton and Oconee counties as well as Winder, has been in the drawing stage since the late 1980s/ early 1990s, City Administrator Bob Beck said.

Walton County commissioners, who dissolved the county's Water and Sewer Authority to gain more of a say in discussions about the reservoir, were sued by members of the board who did not think the commission had the authority to eliminate it, Beck said. He did not know the terms of the settlement, and various Walton County officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Beck said the end of the lawsuit means the three governments can get back to planning the reservoir. Two other cities - Social Circle and Loganville - have also expressed interest in being included in the plans.

Representatives of all five bodies will meet later this month to determine how they would allocate the 41.8 million gallons of water that could be taken from the reservoir each day.

Some of the land has already been acquired, Beck said, but other parts of the land needed to create the reservoir has not yet been purchased. The reservoir would not begin to provide Winder with water for 10 or 15 more years, he said.

"Somewhere around 2015 is when we'll need additional water," he said. "It takes a while to get all these things done. It takes a long time to get it together."

Currently, the city takes its water from rivers that run through Winder. According to population estimates, Beck said, the city will need more water around the time the reservoir would be completed. With the current allocation, Winder would use 5 million gallons each day.

Beck said the fact that governments are looking to the future is beneficial to residents of all the areas involved.