Replenishing Wiregrass Water Supplies

By: Alex Zequeira
By: Alex Zequeira

The drinking water supply for four southeast Alabama counties is slowly decreasing year after year, but now a plan to build a surface level reservoir, or lake, would help replenish the water supplies, for Houston, Coffee, Dale, and Genevea Counties.

Two of the cities in most need of more water are Enterprise and Dothan.

Bryan McClendon, who started the Web site, www.lakedothan.org, says, "The aquifer that supplies this region has dropped 220-feet since pre-pumping levels. And has dropped to the point where the wells in Dothan are having to be lowered."

The 1,464 acre lake is set to be positioned in between Dale and Houston Counties, a site that officials say is very central to the area in need of the extra water.

The plan as it stands, is to build a damn on the little Choctawhatchee River, and flood the surrounding area which would provide an additional 30 million gallons of water, a day.

Houston County Commission Chairman, Mark Culver, says "Obviously we have to have water for our region and all the studies have shown that in the next 20 to 50 years, we're going to have some real issues with our aquifer so... We've got to come up with some solution and if this turns out to be the best solution, it'll certainly serve our four county area and be very beneficial to our citizens."

But then there is the issue of a freeway expansion project that will run close to the reservoir.

State and county officials are planning to expand I-10 from the Alabama/Florida state line on US 231 South to US 231 North.

The concern for many people is that the highway extension will conflict with the reservoir. Barbara Gibson, the executive director of the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers watershed management authority says, “If the I-10 connector were to be built over the reservoir site, that would not stop the reservoir from being built.”

She also said "There are surface water reservoirs located all across the u-s with highways, county roads, and interstates crossing them.

The estimated cost of the reservoir is a little over $140-million, and that includes the costs of clearing the area for the lake, building a water treatment plant, and building the pipelines to transmit the water to the surrounding areas.

As it stand now, both the reservoir project and the I-10 connector project will not interfere with one another and county and city officials are working hard to get both plans kicked into gear.


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