Lake Alice hearing stirs up more uncertainty

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CUMMING, Ga. -- Residents who live along Lake Alice still don’t know when the water will be restored, cleaned up and usable.

At a public hearing Wednesday, Feb. 5, about 60 concerned residents and those involved in the clean-up raised questions about why the process is taking so long.

The hearing was the first since May 19, 2013, when four inches of rain burst the dam along Sanders Road and dumped tons of sediment, silt and sludge into the cove, damaging the 10-acre lake and residents say down to Habersham Marina.

“We just want to know when the dredging starts,” said Ron Williams, one of about 50 homeowners, who lives along the lake.

The city, which owns Lake Alice, and the Mashburn Family Trust, which owned the dam, reached an agreement on a remediation plan.

Scott Morgan, director of planning and zoning for the city, said a contractor installed matting along the stream bank areas in the former lake bed and conducted overseeding in order to stabilize the entire area upstream of the dam breach. In addition, turbidity curtains – a flexible, impermeable barrier – were installed to trap the sediment from spreading in the water.

At the meeting, another concerned resident told attendees the turbidity curtains were not doing their job.

Danny Bennett, an engineer with the city of Cumming, said that the sediment in the cove will be removed, but permits by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and Georgia Environmental Protection Division must first be issued.

“The method to remove the sediment has not been determined, yet,” Bennett said.

Debra Abbott, who has lived on Timberlake Trail since 2001, said she’s close to the lake access.

“Like all of our neighbors, we are very upset,” Abbott said. “We’re afraid to let our grandkids into the lake.”

Forsyth County Commissioner Jim Boff, who represents residents in the affected lake area, said he was also frustrated with the lack of response and timeline for fixing the problem.

“These people are trying to go swimming,” Boff said.

Brian Wellington, an engineer hired by the Mashburn Trust, proposed installing a weir on the cove after the clean-up. He also wants residents not to rush into something.

“I understand your frustration and know you guys want to enjoy your lake, but this is a complex issue,” Wellington said. “Let the process run its course and at the end of the process, you’ll have your lake back.”