The Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority (“WSA”) was created in 1985 and began operating as such effective April 1, 1986. At that time, Douglas County’s primary source of raw surface water supply was the Bear Creek Reservoir which was constructed from 1978 to 1980 by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. The water supply was treated at the Bear Creek Water Treatment Plant which, at that time, had a capacity of 4.0 million gallons per day (mgd).
One of the first items of business identified by the newly created Authority in 1986 was the need for a future long-term, high quality source of raw surface water to stay ahead of the anticipated growth and development in Douglas County. Recognizing the limited capacity of the Bear Creek Reservoir to provide the necessary surface water to meet this growth, the Authority initiated an engineering study evaluating 23 potential reservoir sites to determine the most viable future surface water supply source. The study concluded that a 212-acre reservoir, impounding 1.2 billion gallons on Dog River, was the most viable source. The watershed drainage basin for Dog River is 78 square miles.
The Dog River Reservoir and dam, constructed from 1990 to 1992 at a cost of $7.7 million, was the largest water improvements project ever undertaken in the County’s history and took nearly 7 years to bring to fruition from conception to planning to design to permits to construction to final utilization. More than 260 acres were cleared and graded during construction of the project, and 13,300 cubic yards of dirt were removed. Much of this dirt was used in construction of an emergency spillway. The dam required 1,714 truckloads of concrete and was 600 feet long and 40 feet high and impounded 1.2 billion gallons of water. The reservoir had a water surface elevation of 750.0′ USGS MSL (mean sea level).
With an initial withdrawal permit of 6.0 mgd, the reservoir was placed in service on September 10, 1992, and subsequently drained to promote a proper fish population, and again placed in service on February 21, 1993. The withdrawal permit has since been increased a number of times to include: July, 1994 – 8.0 mgd; June, 1995 – 10.0 mgd; August, 1998 – 15.89 mgd; and October, 2002 – 23.0 mgd.
In 1998, the Authority authorized an engineering study to determine the potential for expanding the reservoir. The reservoir study concluded that 23.0 mgd of water could be reliably withdrawn by increasing the height of the reservoir and dam ten feet. The permitting, planning, and financing process for the expansion project was soon put into place.
As with the construction of the original reservoir and dam, this was no small project. In order to raise the reservoir to the proposed 760.0′ USGS MSL, before construction could even begin, it was necessary to raise the Highway 166 Dog River Bridge. The Georgia Department of Transportation, pursuant to a local governmental agreement with WSA, funded the construction costs for raising the bridge and for horizontal realignment of approximately .45 miles of roadway on each side of the bridge. This made it necessary to raise the earthen portion of the dam on the downstream side and the concrete spillway structure 10 vertical feet. The primary intake pumping structure did not require any changes because they were originally constructed with the anticipation of raising the reservoir in the future.
It was not until June of 2008 that construction was actually ready to begin. Workers first had to clear shrubs and trees from land that would be under water when the reservoir reached its new maximum capacity. The Authority completed this expansion modification in May, 2009. The expanded reservoir covers 256 acres and provides a storage capacity of 1.9 billion gallons of raw surface water with a new surface elevation of 760.0′. In May of 2009, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Safe Dams Program gave WSA the go-ahead to begin the process of filling the reservoir at the rate of one foot per week.
This brought to conclusion a project which started more than 10 years earlier.