Meeting on Bear Creek is Thursday

COVINGTON - The public has the chance to get an update on the Bear Creek Reservoir and give input at a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Newton County Historic Courthouse on the Square.

A general overview of the project will be given, followed by a question and answer session, said Scott Cole with the County Attorney's Office.

On Jan. 9, a Joint Public Notice was issued for the project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A Joint Public Notice is an open comment period when the Corps seeks input from all adjoining neighbors, environmental groups and other agencies on the potential impact of the reservoir.

The comment period expires March 10.

County officials decided to hold a meeting to better inform the public, though it is not a Corps requirement, Cole said.

Representatives with the Corps will be present to observe the meeting, however, he said.

"We've invited all the people adjacent to the reservoir and the people who have commented so far, we've invited," he said.

"Input given by anybody that wants to come to it will certainly be considered in the process," he added.

After public comment closes, the Corps will investigate all issues raised, and it will likely take another 12 to 18 months before a permit is issued, Cole said.

The 1,242 acre pump-storage reservoir is intended to serve Newton County's water needs through the year 2050, pumping approximately 28 million gallons of water per day, according to the Corps.

The reservoir will be located in southeast Newton, and will overtake most of the more than 2,000 acres purchased by the county in 1996 along with Gaither Plantation, though the historic Gaither home, barn, log cabin and Harris Springs Primitive Baptist Church will remain.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.