Chattooga County could be one of the first counties in Georgia to take advantage of new legislation allowing private-public partnerships to fund water projects.

Commissioner Jason Winters said the county could work with Forestar Real Estate Group to develop Regal Springs in eastern Chattooga into a "very low-cost, high-volume water resource."

"This resource could completely meet the needs of our county and help some of the others," he said. "For Walker, Chattooga and Floyd [counties], it’s a great selling point to say we have guaranteed water."

The spring — located 4 1/2 miles from Floyd County and about 6 miles from Walker — is believed to pump out as many as 12 million gallons per day. Winters says initial talks have outlined a plan to collect 4 million to 6 million gallons a day from the spring and store it above ground in half-million-gallon tanks.

"No reservoir, no lake," Winters said, dispelling talk that the surrounding area could be flooded.

But working out the details will take time, Winters said, especially financing the work.

As early as March 2010, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., requested $4 million from the Senate Appropriations Committee for water system improvements in Walker, Chattooga and Floyd counties, including "developing Regal Springs into a water supply for a tri-county area that includes Chattooga, Floyd and Walker counties."

The project is not listed in the appropriations committee’s 2011 list of water and energy appropriations.

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