Building New Water Reservoirs Can Be a Risky Business
A Report from the Environmental Group American Rivers Advises Communities to Approach Reservoir Proposals with Caution
Southeast U.S. communities should think twice before building new water supply reservoirs, according to a report released by American Rivers.
The report, Money Pit: The High Cost and High Risk of Water Supply Reservoirs in the Southeast, documents the financial risks and water resource risks tied to the development of new reservoirs. The report comes at a time when many local governments throughout Georgia, the Carolinas and neighboring states are considering significant spending of public taxpayer and ratepayer dollars to build new water supply reservoirs. Collectively, current reservoir proposals in Georgia alone could cost at least $10 billion in taxpayer and ratepayer dollars.
New reservoir pitfalls are many. Among them:
- Reservoirs are highly expensive, racking up debt for ratepayers and taxpayers.
- A reservoir’s price tag is typically a moving target.
- Reservoir financing plans often rely on inflated population growth projections, ultimately leaving existing residents holding the bag.
- In order to remain full, a reservoir depends on increasingly uncertain rainfall. And, a reservoir loses water when high temperatures cause evaporation.
- Reservoir water is a contested resource subject to competing demands in the river system.
More details about the American Rivers report.