A number of Madison County citizens want to see Seagraves Lake preserved, but county industrial authority members stood by the decision to drain the lake at their August meeting.
They note that the lake is privately owned and that expenses to improve the publicly owned high-hazard dam in order to save the lake aren’t an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.
“Any money spent on the dam now is really a constitutional issue,” said IDA Executive Director Frank Ginn, referring to public funds used to maintain a private lake.
Years ago, the industrial authority, with completely different members, agreed to take ownership of the high-hazard dam at Seagraves Lake with the aim of upgrading the dam and using the lake as a county water source. However, this wasn’t feasible, since the water inflow to the lake isn’t sufficient for such a purpose.
And for years, the IDA has struggled with the best way to resolve the issue.
The authority discussed returning the dam to private ownership, but no one offered to take the property to make the upgrades needed to bring the dam into compliance with state regulations.
Ginn said he “continues to explore legislative options.”
“The only way I can see for it to be saved is to have a change in the law,” he said.
“A lot of dams in the state fall in that category.”
If the dam gives way, one home in the flood zone could be impacted in a life-threatening way.
Ginn said purchasing that house is also not a true fix.
“If you eliminate the house, in the short term, you’ve solved problem, but 15 minutes later, a mobile home could turn it back to category one dam,” he said.
Ginn said the authority has partially opened the spillway to allow water to flow out over two-to-three months.
In other matters, industrial authority member Jeff Dillard announced that he is resigning from the group. Chairman Josh Chandler thanked him for his service to the board.
The authority discussed a pending grant application for water infrastructure upgrades. The county commissioners agreed last week to allocate $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) money to the industrial authority for its application for matching grant funds from the state, which will determine how additional federal money is spent around Georgia. The IDA is applying for $7.5 million in ARP money from the state, which would give the county $10 million total to spend on infrastructure projects.
Commissioners and IDA members say that the upcoming update to the county comprehensive plan will be key in determining a priority list for infrastructure upgrades. The IDA presented the commissioners with 10 potential projects, with the top priority being the connection of Columbia Farms Feed Mill water system to the county system at Hwy. 72.
The industrial authority offices will soon be moved to the old elections office on Spring Lake Drive. The authority plans to hold its meetings there beginning in October.