A story slated to run Wednesday, Dec. 31 in Fayette County News and Today in Peachtree City will say that Peachtree City is still waiting for news from the state on whether they had won their appeal to have the Lake Peachtree Dam reclassified to Category 2. That was true as of press time Tuesday, but word came Tuesday evening that the city was successful in its appeal, which should mean significant savings.
The hope had been to get a response on the appeal by the end of the year, and the city ended up receiving that response within 36 hours of the calendar flipping to 2015. It was estimated that a Category 1 designation (which implies a risk to life downstream in the event of a dam breach) would cost the city between $5 and $7 million. A Category 2 repair, on the other hand, is estimated to cost between $1.5 and $2.5 million.
The news is also positive in terms of when residents might expect to see Lake Peachtree full again. With a Category 2 designation, it is possible that the lake could be dredged and temporary repairs made to the spillway so that the lake could be refilled at some point in 2015. A Category 1 designation would likely have presented a much more prolonged timeline.
The city released the following press release regarding the successful appeal:
Today the City received a letter from the Georgia Environmental Protection Department which states that the dam at Lake Peachtree will revert back to a Category II status. This results in a savings of up to 4 million dollars to the taxpayers and ratepayers of Fayette County over what a Category I dam overhaul would have cost. The City will work with the County on various spillway and dam repair options. While the County dredges the lake, hopefully repairs to the spillway can be made. As soon as the dredging is complete and the spillway is repaired, Lake Peachtree will be restored once again to the beautiful lake we have all come to love and enjoy.
Almost a year ago, the water level of Lake Peachtree was lowered to allow homeowners along its shoreline to perform maintenance to their properties. During this time, while checking the dam and spillway, a city employee discovered a problem. That problem was reported to the county, who maintains the dam and spillway, and ultimately to EPD
Lake Peachtree was a Category II dam, which means that there would be “no potential loss of life” should the dam ever fail. EPD this past summer determined that the dam should be upgraded to Category I status, meaning that there was a chance “for potential loss of life” should the dam fail and requiring up to 5-7 million dollars in repairs to bring the dam up to Category I standards. After consulting with the City’s engineering team, Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, Peachtree City Council and Fayette County disagreed and filed a legal challenge to EPD’s decision. Since the reclassification of the dam in June, Mayor Fleisch and Council have been engaged in ongoing talks with both the County and the State in order to achieve a dialogue to get this matter resolved in a timely manner. Work on the spillway had to wait until EPD issued this final letter classifying the dam as a Category II dam.