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More costly dam looms if PTC fails in Lake Peachtree appeal

State decision stands to increase cost to county

Peachtree City officials plan to appeal a decision from state regulators that would require a more costly repair to the dam and spillway holding back Lake Peachtree.

The city, which owns the lake, is working in conjunction with Fayette County, which leases the use of the lake as a water reservoir. The county has agreed with the city that the best option for now is to pursue the appeal.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has reclassified the lake as a “Category I” body of water, meaning that if the dam were to be breached, lives would be lost downstream due to excessive flooding.

The Category I designation almost assuredly means higher costs to bring the dam and spillway facility into compliance with state regulations.

The appeal also further extends the timeline for getting the lake refilled, but city and county officials have stressed that “there are no plans for alternative uses of the lake bed site.”

The county commission is expected Thursday to consider a memorandum of understanding with the city in regards to proceeding with addressing the lake repairs. Under a contract dating to the 1960s, the county is responsible for maintaining the dam and spillway because the county’s water system uses the lake as a reservoir.

The lake has remained drained since February when it was lowered for what was expected to take two months, giving property owners time to conduct dock and shoreline maintenance. During that period, officials discovered a significant problem with the spillway: an underground cavern has been forged, likely by erosion.

That cavern calls into question whether the spillway is structurally sound to the point where it can carry its load if the lake were to be refilled.

The lake’s ramshackle appearance, with a significant amount of grass growing on the mostly dry yet mucky lakebed, has been the subject of much consternation among city residents all summer. After all, the lake is a signature feature of the city and is seen by all who drive by City Hall on Ga. Highway 54.

In the meantime, county officials have consultants working on dam breach modeling to determine the potential impact of a breach of the spillway. Also being studied is the potential for any temporary modifications to the spillway that would allow the lake to be refilled.

Also under consideration is the use of an alternative rehabilitation for the spillway that may meet state criteria to allow temporary refilling of the lake. Such options could include “more intrusive and extensive repairs” to the emergency spillway, building a temporary spillway upstream, and installing other methods such as siphons to control the water level.

The county is hoping to have an action plan ready by the end of this month, but whatever procedure is ultimately chosen will also need approval of state regulators, further extending the timeline.

The city and county are working together on the project, as both governments want to see the lake restored, officials said. The county is providing copies of all proposals, contracts and reports from its consultants Golder and CH2M Hill so they can be reviewed and approved by the city.

In the meantime the city presented its annual July 4 fireworks display over the dry lake, and other events will be moved to Lake McIntosh later this year including the annual Dragon Boat races and a triathlon event.

Because the lake repairs will be an extended process, the county has presented a plan to dredge the lake in a process that would be complete around January 2015. This dry dredging process needs approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but would remove silt and mud from the lake bottom that has accumulated due to upstream erosion.

The county and city expect the repairs will take longer than the dredging process, so the lake bed will again see grass growing following the dredging, officials have cautioned. That grass will die out once the lake is refilled and it will not impact water quality, officials said in the news release.

Curiosity has gotten the best of some residents, several of whom have tried to go “mudding” in the lake bed, only to have their truck/golf cart/you-name-it mired in the thick muck. Police have handed out citations for violating a city ordinance against improper use of the lake, and stuck vehicles have also had a hit on the driver’s wallet, as specialized equipment must be called in to rescue their vehicles from the lake bed.


"The county commission is expected Thursday to consider a memorandum of understanding with the city in regards to proceeding with addressing the lake repairs. Under a contract dating to the 1960s, the county is responsible for maintaining the dam and spillway because the county?__s water system uses the lake as a reservoir."

Guess we will finally know what the county plans to do and why the city felt the need to hire attorneys. Hopefully I am wrong, but I don't have a good feeling about this. You usually don't need a memorandum if someone plans to follow through with their obligations.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

The actual agreement did not contemplate all the additional standards and regulations state and federal government have come up with in the last 50 years. So the county wants the city to understand they will repair or even replace the dam back to the standards by which it was built in the 1960's and any fancy add-ons because of new regs will be the city's expense. That's why Rapson fired the first shot in this upcoming battle when he said the county doesn't need the water from Lake Peachtree. Just guessing, but its what I would if I were running the county. I guess PTC's regional representative on county commission will get involved and be an advocate for the city's position - won't he?

Live free or die!

That Rapson showed his cards when he made the initial salvo. As a county resident, we will pay for it anyway, but PTC should be ready to take one on the chin tonight. Bring out all the inspection reports (if they can find them).

Wonder if we can secede from the county and take Lake Peachtree and McIntosh and the treatment plant? lol

Robert W. Morgan's picture

We would be a great self-sufficient little city. Police, fire, library, schools, industrial park, ampihtheater, 3 lakes, sewer, etc. What do we need the stinkin' county for? Wonder who is going to take up that cause. Where's Haddix when you need him?

But seriously, I agree the best thing the city can do is shine the spotlight back on the county when regular inspections of the dam are discussed and Tony Parrot's written reports are dissected. That should be entertaining.

Live free or die!

There might be some fireworks tonight. Maybe a speed checks on Hwy 54 tonight to catch those commissioners and county manager speeding home.

should be whether those who provide legal advice to the county and city (or any govt. entity) are charged with reviewing any and all documents on file, say annually(?), for changes that need to be made due to new legislation or regulations that make these documents subject to court battle or at the very least vague and subject to challenges.

I would think the agreements in place between our local governments and their attorneys would have a clause mandating the attorney notify the elected (or management) of new laws with a recommendation to get these agreements updated. These legal recommendations should be subject to Open Records laws, so that the public can know who/why there is/was (no?) follow up. Maybe this process is already in place. If it is, it should not be difficult to trace back as to why an agreement from 54 or 29 years ago has never been updated to outline specifics that apply to the current legal world we live in now.

Speaking of the current legal world, anyone following what the EPA is doing with the Clean Water Act? I just caught this and how much this might affect any dredging and our water supplies in general. CH2MHLL and Golden should be all over this for us, as should be Mr. Davenport and Mr. Meeker.


Governments either put out proposals to hire the lowest bidder or select attorneys based on relationships. Most of these don't last too long. How many attorneys has the city and county have over the last 10 years? Do you remember any one of them bringing up the fact that the city or county should reopen/revisit existing long term contracts? I can't recall this happening.

You're right, but it would open up a can of worms.

One would suppose that the water company budget should have had a line item to address this. Perhaps we can designate Mr. Ernst and King to start looking into the cities engineering budget along with the processes of inspecting our property on a yearly basis. That should keep them busy now that they accomplished their goal.

but even more so is the train wreck that is presently going on.

Unless I am mistaken, the city has had 2 attorneys in the last 10 years? I realize the attorneys change and so do elected, but the law is the law, and I am aware that the current attorney does keep current with new legislation, at least at state level, probably federal, too. My question is would we even be aware of their advice to reopen/revisit existing contracts. I realize litigation is covered, but (again, I am no attorney) I would think contract review or at least any update should be part of the public record.

I can think of no bigger can of worms than what we have now, so why not? Again, might already be in place, we just don't know yet since the mayor lawyered up. The irony of what I am questioning and saying is not lost on me...the old worn joke...lawyers, can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. No reflection on any current counsel intended here.

Think about the time it would take to address these issues. First one would need someone on staff every year to address each agreement. Then we would need someone evaluating every legislation to see if it affects any contract or local issue. Very daunting task.

Do we really want more lawyers? lol

do you think legal battles with multimillion dollar consequences would be worth it? We will soon find out.

Create a database with every agreement on file, hand it to any attorney hired and make them responsible for reviewing and communicating the updates needed to city. The Georgia Municipal Association already provides a lot of this information. Do we really have a choice when what is going on now is the result?

I understand what you are saying, but it appears to me that the county failed to perform their duty and did not maintain the dam all of these years and let it fall into such a state of disrepair that now it needs to be totally replaced. Had they maintained it properly all these years we wouldn't be where we are at now, would we? I think the county has more liability in this issue than the city does, especially if they were responsible for both inspections and maintenance. You shouldn't be able to shirk your responsibility and make someone else pay for it. Just my opinion however.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

But rest assured that there will be at least 2 entirely different opinions emerging from this mess and we the taxpayers will be paying the cost of seeing which opinion prevails (aka legal fees) and of course for the new dam.

Sort of unfair that we have to pay for both sides and we wind up fighting with ourselves. I guess the county should wear the blue uniforms and the city gets to choose grey (actually butternut, wasn't it?).

Live free or die!

Was anyone at the meeting? I watched the video and they discussed a memorandum of understanding with PTC. Did this redline agreement state that the county will pay for the fixes?

There is a special meeting on Thursday in PTC to consider this agreement with the county. Does it set up the financial parameters?

The county signed off on a joint resolution to appeal the Category 1 designation by the State. That was the discussion at the BOC meeting last Thursday. That resolution was drawn up jointly by city and county and is the reason for a special called meeting Monday night at 6PM for the city council to sign off on it, too. The city email notification yesterday has the wrong day of the week listed for the 6PM meeting Monday.

The resolution is on the city website (as a download), under the Meeting Agenda link. This meeting precedes the meeting at 6:30PM Monday for the workshop on the 54 West traffic study.

The Citizen (paper) today reports "the city itself will be responsible for conducting a dam breech analysis".

I read that in today's Citizen and watched the video. I was hoping that there would also be resolution on who is financially responsible for the repairs. Why not address the pink elephant?

Surely,you aren't calling da mayor a pink elephant. You know you cannot address her, she has lawyered up. Come on, you know how this is being played. Just lining up the ducks right now. Ducks rule, remember? Geese, not so much. Under Obama rules, those ducks and geese might qualify for public assistance, you know. Think they have been inserted into the 4 billion packet Barry is hallucinating will be approved this week?

Just for kicks, anyone know if attorneys get paid by the "WHEREAS"'s? Is so, what is the going rate, anyone?

That the lake that provided water to the county for years and a centerpiece of the city isn't going to be abandoned. It's so nice that we get along. Glad Barlow wasn't there to commend the ole water guy for the great job he did.

Just wish someone from the county would

A. Own up to the contract and state they will pay.

B. Tell PTC they are the landlord and have to replace the roof

C. Offer a shared settlement

D. Advise something on the cost issue whichever way the state goes after the challenge.

E. Offer the old water guy as an advisor on the repairs

Funny you should bring him up. Does your wife get Fayette Woman magazine? Kroger or Publix carries them for free. Check out page 117 to see the old water guy and his bride, the county CFO. Sitting in front of Niagara Falls where they went for their honeymoon. Smiling. Have a cold beverage and think about all 3 of those tidbits for a minute or two. I cannot make this stuff up.

And then understood why Rapson kept him around.

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