Reservoir project then ... and now

By jess

Significant work taken place on water project recently

Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013

By Robbie Schwartz

Then Now

WALTON COUNTY — Work on the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir has reached a feverish pace since Gov. Nathan Deal visited the site for a formal groundbreaking in early October.

And the goal is to get as much work done before winter weather slows down work.
“Cold weather can prevent the pouring of concrete, if we get toward freezing temperatures,” said Jimmy Parker, vice president of Precision Planning Inc. and project manager for the reservoir. “Most of the critical issues like the many unknown conditions that can pop up on a construction project have been favorable to us at this point. We encountered some rock, but we knew about that and we haven’t had any big surprises yet — which is always a good thing.”

About 99 percent of the land has been acquired for the 2,469-acre project, which includes not only the pool of the reservoir but work on relocating roads and bridges. With work in full swing, there are as many as 50-80 workers total on the 1,450-acre construction site, though the residual impact of the project reaches more than 140 employees when considering truck drivers bringing gas to the site, workers who cast the 25 concrete beams for the new bridge for Social Circle Fairplay Road and other aspects of where the water intake structure is being constructed.

To date about $77.6 million has been spent or already approved for allocation for the project, representing about 56 percent of the total budget. The reservoir is on schedule and trending under budget. Between money spent in years leading up to project in addition to the bonds issued in 2008 — $59 million by Walton County, $21 million by Oconee — coupled with the $32 million given in low-interest loans by the state last year, officials do not expect to have to return to the bond market to get the first phase of the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir completed and pumping water.

The project has even reached a point where last week the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Management Board established a committee last week to begin evaluating sites for possible boat access, though since the reservoir is for drinking water there will be limitations as to the types of recreation vehicles will be allowed inside the water. The committee will be working with officials from Bear Creek Reservoir and Lake Varner to help establish guidelines. 

But for residents, perhaps the most noticeable impact can be seen along the 60 acres along Browning Shoals Road where the dam is starting to take shape. Acres of trees have been cut and removed from the site, the greenery replaced with a scene of red clay where last week workers prepped the creekbed for the 72-inch wide pipe that will carry water through the dam — which will be 630 feet at its base. Currently the creek flows through three pipes — two 48 inches in diameter and another 54 inches — to allow the site to drain and construction of the dam to begin. The dam will use no concrete, instead utilizing about 650,000 cubic yards of dirt, all of which will be acquired onsite from within the reservoir’s pool. The 1,900-foot long dam is scheduled to be complete by January 2015.

As the dam is being built, so is a labyrinth of measures to deal with heavy water flow.

“It will be designed to handle 35 inches of rain in a six-hour time period,” Parker said, comparing it to a tropical storm or hurricane stalling out over the area.

The relocation of Social Circle Fairplay Road is expected to take the longest to complete, with a finish date of March 2015. Many saw the concrete beams make their way through downtown Monroe recently and 20 of the 25 beams were resting in place last week. A total of 1,494 cubic yards of concrete will be used on the bridge, totaling 2,295 tons in total weight.

The Mount Paron Church Road culvert project — which included raising the road 17 feet — is nearing completion and the base slab and the first walls of the intake structure have been poured.