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Site may be hard to pass up for reservoir
County weighs quarry proposal
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Forsyth County News

It's a long way off, but a quarry may someday help Forsyth County's water issues.

The family that owns the site off Ronald Reagan Boulevard is looking at options for the future when the granite's all gone.

One of the owners told county commissioners Tuesday that there's about 60 million tons of useful minerals, or about 20 to 25 years' worth, remaining at the site.

Commissioners considered the possibilities of using the land, which could reach a depth of 380 feet by the time it's depleted, as a reservoir.

"It's going to hold a lot of something, even if it's just air," said part owner George Woelper, adding that the entire parcel is about 350 acres.

"We see a reservoir as the highest and best use for this property, long term," Woelper said.

Chairman Charles Laughinghouse seemed to agree. He invited Woelper to the work session to introduce himself and the idea to commissioners.

"It would be a great storage facility," Laughinghouse said.

He noted that a stream that currently flows into the quarry "may not have enough flow, but maybe a little drilling and blasting down at the bottom might open up some channels."

Water and sewer director Tim Perkins said it is a common practice for former quarries to be transformed into reservoirs.

"It's one option," Perkins said. "It's something that's been on our radar."

The quarry is one of the company's more profitable location in the eastern United States, according to Woelper.

"They're not going anywhere yet," he said. "They're going to get the last ounce of granite out of there."
Lafarge, an international building materials company with a local presence on Ronald Reagan Boulevard, may end its property lease once the quarry is depleted.

At Woelper's estimated rate of 3 million tons of materials per year, that could mean about 20 years.

Laughinghouse said the rate at which the quarry is depleted also hinges on the market.

"How much construction goes on may stretch or shrink the active life of the quarry," Laughinghouse said. "Now is the time to start looking at what's going to happen to that property ... I think it's a great place for a reservoir."

Woelper encouraged commissioners to stay in touch.

"Twenty years of planning is nothing for something like this ... these types of projects take a long time."

Laughinghouse said he was looking forward to seeing the reservoir project come about.

"I think it corresponds with my 90th birthday," he said.