Conecuh Co. needs impact study on lake

Published 4:15 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
Conecuh County is proceeding with an environmental impact study for the county's proposed 2,600-acre lake project.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorized the county to begin the study on the lake and a dam across Murder Creek, just west of Evergreen.
The controversial project has been in development for years, with previous applications stating the use would be for drinking water or for recreation. The current application lists the use as a reservoir for agricultural irrigation and industry.
Previous studies have shown there was no need for a reservoir for drinking water and that the environmental hazards were too great to build a lake for recreation.
In a letter to the county commission, Corps District Commander Col. Byron Jorns said an initial review has determined the impacts of the project would “likely be significant.”
Jorns said several topics will be of importance to the Corps as it reviews the environmental impact statement: purpose and need; wetland and stream impacts; cultural resources; water quality; hydrologic/hydraulic regimes; alternatives; secondary and cumulative impacts; threatened and endangered species; and socioeconomics.
Last year, the county agreed to “self-fund” the project, allotting $178,000 for the permitting process and for Albritton's salary. Albritton is a former state representative for Conecuh County and part of Escambia County.
The county applied for new permits with the Corps of Engineers in February.
Many surrounding counties and cities have been supportive of the lake effort, said John Fleming, chairman of the Conecuh County Reservoir Management Area Authority. “I believe that they will continue to move forward with the commission to build this lake in a very short time.”
Albritton said the environmental impact study could cost about $750,000 and take 18 to 24 months to complete.