The ‘water war’ isn’t really about water at all

Look, let’s be honest.

Georgia’s ongoing battle with neighboring Alabama and, to a lesser degree, with Florida, isn’t really about the appropriate use of shared water resources.

It’s about prosperity: We’ve got it, they want it, and by restricting our water supply, they hope to divert some of that prosperity in their direction.

Alabama officials in particular seem to be enthralled by that theory, which is probably why Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley are at such loggerheads. What Perdue can’t say but probably believes is that Riley’s goal is not to protect Alabama but to harm metro Atlanta. The difference between those two motives explains why negotiations have been fruitless so far.

If you look at the water consumption numbers, Alabama’s interests are not harmed by the amount of water consumed by metro Atlanta, and Riley cannot seriously make the argument that it is. Even in drought years, the amount of water consumed by metro Atlanta has little impact on the amount of water available downstream for use by Alabama.

Even if we were to resume growth at the pace of the ’90s without implementing serious water conservation efforts — both highly unlikely scenarios — it would in no way endanger Alabama’s water resources.

Unfortunately, Alabama is not alone in the misperception that prosperity is a zero-sum game, that what Atlanta loses they are likely to gain. Some of our fellow Georgians believe the same thing. A recent editorial in the Savannah Morning News, for example, argued that “in light of a federal judge’s ruling on Atlanta’s water, state leaders should spread economic development efforts to other parts of Georgia” where water is readily available.

While acknowledging Atlanta’s growth, the editorial argues that “the city’s very success, while parts of southeast and central Georgia languish, is its own argument for ending the state’s Atlanta-centric development efforts, and shifting growth to areas of the state that can support it.”

First, the notion that state economic development efforts are somehow “Atlanta-centric” has no basis. To the contrary, the state spends disproportionately more money and effort trying to woo business to other parts of Georgia, and for good reason. Those regions are simply a tougher sell to companies looking to relocate or expand.

Second, the companies and the people that come to metro Atlanta aren’t directed here by government. They come because they seek the benefits and amenities of a major metropolitan area. They could locate to other areas of Georgia, areas with less traffic, cheaper housing and cleaner air, but they come here because they need the skilled work force, the schools and universities, the restaurants, the cultural activities and the world-class airport offered by metro Atlanta.

In other words, growth redirected from metro Atlanta by a shortage of water would not go to Alabama or Savannah. It would shift instead to Charlotte, Dallas, Chicago or Denver, metro competitors that offer an environment similar to that of Atlanta. In most cases, those shifts would cost the Southeast the secondary financial and employment benefits created by a thriving Atlanta.

In any such discussion, it’s important to acknowledge that metro Atlanta is not blameless. Should the region have been more aggressive in water conservation efforts? Of course. It also should have moved more quickly to fix water-quality problems that for decades truly did harm downstream neighbors, costing us trust we could sorely use.

It’s also true that Georgia has badly misplayed what was already a weak poker hand. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson merely confirmed what many in Georgia quietly knew: Alabama and Florida’s legal case — dependent on a strict reading of the law — has always been stronger than the case they could offer on practical or scientific grounds.

For that reason, allowing the battle to be confined to the courtroom never made sense, and now we’re paying the price.

78 comments Add your comment

USinUK

August 4th, 2009
11:38 am

dang. I sooooooooooo don’t have a dog in this fight.

stands for decibels

August 4th, 2009
11:39 am

Excellent. Good to see this piece online.

While I’m sure someone else out there has pointed out the rather raw zero-sum game our GA’s neighbors are playing, I’ve yet to see it laid out quite as clearly as this.

stands for decibels

August 4th, 2009
11:42 am

our GA’s? sheesh. I’ll come in again…

Gandalf - First!

August 4th, 2009
11:49 am

I’m FIRST again.

Don’t forget: O.B.A.M.A.</STRONG

stands for decibels

August 4th, 2009
11:50 am

Here’s a link to that Savannah Morning News editorial Jay’s referenced above, should anyone care to have a look.

I Report :-) You Whine :-(

August 4th, 2009
11:54 am

There will be no “price” paid but other than that, it is refreshing to see the bookman come around to my side of the debate.

The hysterics were left behind.

Brad Steel

August 4th, 2009
11:54 am

Do Alabama and the rest of Georgia actually have running water?

I Report :-) You Whine :-(

August 4th, 2009
11:56 am

WASHINGTON. D.C. – Following reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been orchestrating an effort to intimidate members of Congress and Governors who raise legitimate concerns regarding the effectiveness of the stimulus, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to Emanuel saying “While this type of scare tactic may work In Chicago, it will not work to intimidate me or other Members of the United States Congress.”

bwa

We rule.

RW-(the original)

August 4th, 2009
11:56 am

Whoever wrote this column realizes that wealth and prosperity aren’t zero sum games. Who are you and what have you done with Jay B?

Who You Gonna Call

August 4th, 2009
11:56 am

A strict interpretation of the law is the rule of the day. Progressive thinking is so non-conservative and the founders of the Laws Of Lanier could not have possibly erred for they were all direct descendants of the original law providers, were they not. Perfect in all ways, forever.

USinUK

August 4th, 2009
11:59 am

“Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to Emanuel”

oooooo … nothing scarier than a sternly worded letter …

baaaaaaaahahahahahaha

stands for decibels

August 4th, 2009
12:03 pm

nothing scarier than a sternly worded letter …

Well, that Rahm does have a rep for being quite the shrinking violet, so perhaps it was an effective stategery.

Who You Gonna Call

August 4th, 2009
12:11 pm

Monetary wealth is a zero-sum game.

Normal

August 4th, 2009
12:15 pm

Georgia wants water? Good! Invade Tennessee and take back Chatanooga and the Tennessee River. That was supposed to be the Georgia/Tennessee
boundry anyway. Then build a dam around Ellijay (I have property there),
Put a sign on the dam “For Atlanta Only, yna, yna, yna!”
See? Problem solved…

jt

August 4th, 2009
12:16 pm

“For that reason, allowing the battle to be confined to the courtroom never made sense, and now we’re paying the price.”

“Even in drought years, the amount of water consumed by metro Atlanta has little impact on the amount of water available downstream for use by Alabama.”

“Second, the companies and the people that come to metro Atlanta aren’t directed here by government.”

For Jay Bookman to make such sense IS the best arguement for goverment MANDATED 4 week paid vacation.

To think that something can not be decided by goverment lawyers.

Oh well, enjoy it while you can, the smog and the smug ITP will soon revert him.

TnGelding

August 4th, 2009
12:16 pm

I think AL and FL are genuinely concerned that the water will stop flowing someday. Just look at what happened to the Colorado. The other metro areas mentioned probably have water concerns of their own. Congress should be able to resolve the differences to the satisfaction of all.

http://www.waterencyclopedia.com/Ce-Cr/Colorado-River-Basin.html

Who You Gonna Call

August 4th, 2009
12:16 pm

Georgia should secede and take Lanier with it.

Kamchak

August 4th, 2009
12:33 pm

…House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-Ca) sent a letter to Emanuel…

This is the same Darrell Issa that spent millions recalling the former Governor of California in an attempt to buy the Governor’s seat on the cheap, then crying like a baby on TeeVee while withdrawing when Ahhhnold threw his hat in the ring. LOL–you’re ruler is another cut-and-runner.

jt

August 4th, 2009
12:33 pm

Maybe President Obama should take a fishing trip, although someone would have to bait his hook.

AmVet

August 4th, 2009
12:36 pm

Did I misread or did JB assert that Perdue and Riley “are such loggerheads”?

What an insult to turtles everywhere!

I don’t much about his Alabamee cuz, but when it comes to Sonny “Pray for Rain”, the term is dunderhead…

getalife

August 4th, 2009
12:38 pm

Now we know what is next for the con (birthers, antchristers).

They heckle at dem town hall meetings shouting down the speakers.

Brad Steel

August 4th, 2009
12:39 pm

If Buford annexes Atlanta, the letter-of-the law issue will be solved.

Curious Observer

August 4th, 2009
12:43 pm

Oh well, enjoy it while you can, the smog and the smug ITP will soon revert him.

Like the nation as a whole, Georgia is trying to fight two wars at once–one with Florida and Alabama and another pitting OTP vs. ITP, as the quote above indicates. Most Georgians would like nothing better than to see the City of Atlanta wither and die. The bitter political divisions in the state help to ensure an unwinnable war.

There’s no way Georgia can maintain and extend prosperity under these conditions.

Eddy

August 4th, 2009
12:45 pm

If you drive down I-85 to Alabama line to Lanett, Al., the Hooch is almost over its banks there. Even during the drought, it was still full and flowing nicely. I believe that Jay has hit upon a kernal of truth. It’s not about the water!! Unfortunately, there are 3 politicians involved and tasked with arriving at a tenable solution for all. Need I say more.

I would also believe that with some analysis by competent outsiders (not the Corp of Engineers), there is information available about the capacity, supply and needs of the 3 states that would clarify the legitimate issues if there are any and this could lead to a successful resolution. But again, facts are pretty much foreign to politicians!

Get Real

August 4th, 2009
12:45 pm

Without Atlanta, Georgia would be Mississippi with even a lower quality of education.

USinUK

August 4th, 2009
12:46 pm

heading home … night all :-)

Joey

August 4th, 2009
12:49 pm

Discussions of Water Conservation are always about how much we use. It would be helpful if we occasionally discussed how much rain water falls that we do not use.

Most people support reuse of storm (rain) water when the rain water in question falls on our roofs and parking lots. in order to be good stewards and to be Green, we must catch that water and reuse it. (Actually use for the first time.)

But what about the rain water that falls on our lawns, our fields, pastures, forest and parks? Why not catch and hold that water for reuse. Because, in order to catch and hold that water we must construct dams and reserviors. But EPA, EPD and 99% of Environmental Groups oppose construction of dams and reserviors.

Meanwhile, all of those trillions of gallons or water will continue to flow away, into Alabama and Florida, unused.

Gandalf, the Great: King and Wizard of Gwinnesia

August 4th, 2009
12:53 pm

Atlanta needs to get some whater somewhere, we are fine in Gwinnesia! HAHA!

jt

August 4th, 2009
12:53 pm

“Most Georgians would like nothing better than to see the City of Atlanta wither and die.”

That is not true. Most Georgians would like nothing better than to ENJOY the City of Atlanta. Like we all used to.

In case you haven’t noticed, the city is famous for crime and goverment corruption. Don’t blame the good citizens OTP to look upon it with derision.

“There’s no way Georgia can maintain and extend prosperity under these conditions.”

We HAVE, and will continue to DO so better than your typical Northeast or Illonois big goverment, high-tax enviroment.

Gandalf, the Great: King and Wizard of Gwinnesia

August 4th, 2009
12:53 pm

Can you help a fellow Georgian down on his water supply? Hahahaha

Gandalf, the Great: King and Wizard of Gwinnesia

August 4th, 2009
12:56 pm

OTP got water a plenty!

Turd Ferguson

August 4th, 2009
12:58 pm

AL…lol…ever been to the Birmingham International Airport…LOL.

Paul

August 4th, 2009
1:07 pm

getalife

[[Now we know what is next for the con (birthers, antchristers). They heckle at dem town hall meetings shouting down the speakers.]]

Pretty sad, isn’t it?

And when the liberal students who shout down and shut out conservative speaker guests graduate and join their conservative brethren in the real world or join the ranks of MoveOn, trying to muzzle Dobbs and company, well, no one’s gonna be able to express themselves.

Except here.

jt

August 4th, 2009
1:10 pm

All the “health-care whiners” always adversly compare our health care system with the “European System”.

It is a fact that europeans take less showers than Americans do.

Regarding The ITP/elite crowd’s proclivity to emulate all things “european” , water rationing should be no problem.

Doggone/GA

August 4th, 2009
1:11 pm

“Meanwhile, all of those trillions of gallons or water will continue to flow away, into Alabama and Florida, unused”

don’t know much about the water cycle do you?

Gale

August 4th, 2009
1:15 pm

Well written, Jay.

and well said:
For Jay Bookman to make such sense IS the best arguement for goverment MANDATED 4 week paid vacation.

stands for decibels

August 4th, 2009
1:19 pm

If Buford annexes Atlanta, the letter-of-the law issue will be solved.

Ya know, crazy as that sounds, I think you’re right.

And maybe they’d finally build a MARTA station down the street from the historic Buford downtown, while land is still relatively cheap and there’s plenty of room for parking? (I know, dream on…)

Joey

August 4th, 2009
1:21 pm

Well yes. Yes I do.

Doggone/GA

August 4th, 2009
1:24 pm

“If Buford annexes Atlanta, the letter-of-the law issue will be solved.”

Maybe, maybe not. Depends on if the law states usage by actual city, or by county. If it’s by county, then the county would have to do the annexing.

TnGelding

August 4th, 2009
1:25 pm

Gandalf, the Great: King and Wizard of Gwinnesia

August 4th, 2009
12:53 pm

Au contraire. Gwinnett County is the biggest loser in the water war.

From an earlier blog by Jay:

“At first blush, it’s likely that Gwinnett County would face drastic and immediate water shortages if that occurred. Its whole sewer and water infrastructure, and the bonded indebtedness that financed it, is predicated on access to Lake Lanier. The impact on the rest of metro Atlanta would be less immediate but severe, particularly in times of drought.”

http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2009/07/18/water-decision-leaves-metro-atlanta-high-and-dry/

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 4th, 2009
1:34 pm

I think AL and FL are genuinely concerned that the water will stop flowing someday. Just look at what happened to the Colorado.

The source of the Mississippi River is Lake Itasca in Minnesota. Should Minnesota control the flow and usage of the Mississippi?

They’ve been fighting over water rights in the West well over 100 years. Now it’s coming here.

When you base your economy on unlimited growth and depend on one of the smallest watersheds in the country for four decades or more without any foresight, this is what comes of it.

TnGelding

August 4th, 2009
1:35 pm

48 going on 70:

“People gather in front of the World’s Largest Beaded Photo Mosaic of U.S. President Barack Obama on display in front of the White House in Washington, August 3, 2009. The project, created with over 372,600 beads by 1000 fourth grade students from across the U.S., was made in honor of Obama’s 48th birthday which will be celebrated tomorrow.”

REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES POLITICS SOCIETY)

http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//090803/ids_photos_ts/r3995144343.jpg/

david wayne osedach

August 4th, 2009
1:35 pm

Atlanta is very lucky indeed to have a bountiful water supply. In many other parts of the country this just isn’t so.

jt

August 4th, 2009
1:42 pm

“., was made in honor of Obama’s 48th birthday which will be celebrated tomorrow.””

How do you know when he was born.? :)

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

August 4th, 2009
1:44 pm

Well, if they don’t get this water thing straightened out I sure don’t want to go near anybody that lives in Gwinnett County. They’ll be flopping around in dust like birds taking a bath. I reckon we’ll all know what a dirty Republican is then.

Anyhow, what with all the water in Alabama and Florida, I don’t know why they want any from Lake Lanier. I reckon it’s just like people that save up a lot of money and don’t want to use it. All they want is to save up some more and buy a bulldozer if they need one to pile it up.

I’m just like most people on this blog, I ain’t got no use for Atlanta. Maybe if they haul all of the criminals and Those People out of there so we could visit once in a while I might could feel diffrent. And the politicans too. It just seems like they all steal so much from the taxpayers their next stop is prison after they leave office. A political office in Atlanta must pay real good. Last week I was driving up Northside Drive and I never seen so many signs for mayor in my life. All them big houses had a sign saying so-and-so for mayor. I reckon the 8 years in office pay real good so they can afford to live in style when they go to prison.

I plumb forgot what else I was going to say. Have a good p.m. everybody.

Mrs. Godzilla

August 4th, 2009
1:45 pm

birthers…..if Karl Rove thinks you are an idiot

you are really a BIG one…..

@@

August 4th, 2009
1:48 pm

Well I’m pleased to hear that prosperity won’t be heading for Alabama anytime soon. If all goes well with the economy, I think I’d like to live in the southern parts of AL without prosperity following me to nirvana.

Frank

August 4th, 2009
1:49 pm

Being honest is about being honest, not fostering an easily disproved myth such as that Florida wants Atlanta’s prosperity (and sprawling development) in the Apalachicola basin. Florida has spent many millions to protect the natural water resources and environments of the basin that form one of the cleanest and most productive estuarine systems in the country. More than 8 million acres of the watershed have been protected. It is Georgia’s lack of planning, Atlanta’s non-sustainable sprawling growth and its desire for ever increasing amounts of water (to be taken away from downstream systems) that threaten the unique water environments that form the Apalachicola system. Yes, it’s about the water. No, it’s not about desiring Atlanta’s form of prosperity – in that way lies madness, as the “pay me later” overdue water bill for Atlanta will now soon demonstrate.

TnGelding

August 4th, 2009
1:52 pm

jt

August 4th, 2009
1:42 pm

At this point what does it matter? But I thought where he was born was the controversy. But wait, maybe he wasn’t old enough either! Anyway, may he have a happy and many, many more.

Allen

August 4th, 2009
1:54 pm

Amen, Jay Bookman. You hit the nail on the proverbial head. I read the same misguided editorial in the Savannah paper while visiting family in south Georgia and my reaction was precisely the same as yours. It is past time for Georgians to wake up and realize that Atlanta is our state capitol and lone single metropolis. As Georgians, we should speak of Atlanta with PRIDE, not disdain and be united in our economic battle with our neighbors and other competitors (Dallas, Denver, Charlotte, Orlando, etc.). To do otherwise is to shoot yourself in the foot.

@@

August 4th, 2009
1:54 pm

I’ve watched presidents age but not nearly as fast asObama.

Allen

August 4th, 2009
1:56 pm

“Frank” is an attorney and pro-Floridian representing the “other side.”

BPJ

August 4th, 2009
2:03 pm

Actually, the lead attorney for Alabama in this case was interviewed yesterday on WABE-FM, and he was emphatic that any settlement would of course provide water for Atlanta as one of the recognized uses for Lake Lanier. He said that a strong metro Atlanta is important to the entire Southeast. According to him, Alabama and Florida want guarantees of a certain amount of water flow; once that is agreed to, it is up to Georgia to apportion the remaining water among various uses, including drinking water for metro Atlanta. Obviously the sticking point is agreeing on an amount, but if that can be done, then water for metro Atlanta is clearly part of the deal.

Conservation will matter, as it will enable us to maximize what we have. So, fix those leaky pipes and “running” toilets, and stop watering your lawn at NOON!

TnGelding

August 4th, 2009
2:03 pm

@@

August 4th, 2009
1:48 pm

That’s where I’m headed, too. If this is prosperity, I don’t want anything to do with it. Those folks in Montgomery, Gulf Shores, Tuscaloosa and around the lakes sure would be surprised they’re living in such squalor.

Turd Ferguson

August 4th, 2009
2:05 pm

TnGelding

August 4th, 2009
1:35 pm

Oh thats nice. Nothing like our public school idiots brainwashing the young and naive into believing obama is some kindve Jesus Christ Saviour.

TnGelding

August 4th, 2009
2:06 pm

@@

August 4th, 2009
1:54 pm

Aged and gotten mean! Why in the world would anyone want the job?

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 4th, 2009
2:07 pm

So, fix those leaky pipes

Back during the height of the drought I remember reading that the City of Atlanta Water System was losing as much as 10% of it’s capacity to leaks.

TnGelding

August 4th, 2009
2:11 pm

Turd Ferguson

August 4th, 2009
2:05 pm

Well, he is president, and they’re entitled to honor him if they see fit.

Allen

August 4th, 2009
2:11 pm

Almost everything written “anti-Atlanta” in AJC blogs is racist —- with some validity considering the mismanagement of our taxpayer dollars via inexcusable accounting practices, no accountability, unnecessary and expensive lawsuits over airport design/cost overruns, etc. Having said that, does anyone think we are going to make this city a better place to live by condemning it? Can’t we all just get along?

Allen

August 4th, 2009
2:13 pm

BPJ, good blog — right on!

Scooter

August 4th, 2009
2:14 pm

Hillbilly, maybe on the next election cycle we will get some “common sense” leadership in ATL and the state. ?????

@@

August 4th, 2009
2:15 pm

TnG:

Even those towns are too big for my britches. Brantley, Luverne, Crestview, Foley….those are more to my liking.

Bosch

August 4th, 2009
2:18 pm

Good article Jay – tell Luckovich his toon was spot on as well.

Turd Ferguson

August 4th, 2009
2:32 pm

Allen

August 4th, 2009
2:11 pm

Very well stated. Atlanta is now no more than the cesspool of the South.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 4th, 2009
2:43 pm

Hillbilly, maybe on the next election cycle we will get some “common sense” leadership in ATL and the state. ?????

We can always hope but were I the wagerin’ type, I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

Water War End Game « Goat Hill News

August 4th, 2009
7:29 pm

[...] The ‘water war’ isn’t really about water at all Jay Bookman [...]

Hal Combo

August 4th, 2009
7:38 pm

Jay, One thing that I think you have missed is that South Georgia, Alabama, and Florida is sick of Atlanta’s arrogance. Just like you pointed out, Georgia’s case wasn’t as strong; it was obvious. But the state had to press on and used how much of our tax money to be put in its place? It doesn’t matter if Alabama needs it or not–it is theirs to do with what they want. Redneck politicians threating to take Tenn. water is a perfect example of why none of them want to negotiate. Atlanta doesn’t have a manifest destiny to WASTE water, and that’s what it’s been doing for years. Developers don’t even want to put in low water toilets! And if everyone is required to, the cost in not an issue!(The courts had to b slap them to get them to fix their sewers!)

IC Atlanta

August 4th, 2009
9:38 pm

Pigs fly – I 100% agree with you Jay. This is about Alabama and some parts of rural GA trying to bring Atlanta down a notch. I grew up in rural GA understand the envy and dislike of Atlanta, but without Atlanta GA is Alabama.

It is funny how people like Hal above call Atlanta arrogant. Guess what Hal – most of these arrogant Atlantans are originally from rural GA, Florida, AL, etc. We get it – you come here for jobs and to make money. I hope cooler heads will prevail and Atlanta will get access to what is rightfully ours.

Vince

August 4th, 2009
10:11 pm

Hell has frozen over! I agree with Bookman! Brilliant article that is the first I have read that hints at the truth of this issue. I have always maintained that Alabama’s dog in this fight is the economic ruin of Atlanta, When the ruling was handed down Governor Riley’s first response was something like, “This ruling will be an economic boon to Alabama.”

Florida and Alabama have just done a MUCH better job of spreading their propaganda. Check out the USGS website and look for the map that shows water consumption along the Chattahoochee. Atlanta consumes very little of what is used. Most is used by power plants south of Columbus.

Do you know that in the wake of this ruling the citizens of Dothan, Alabama are considering building a reservoir to draw from the Chattahoochee. A power company is wanting to build a coal fired power plant (they use an immense amount of water) in southwest Georgia. It too will draw water from the Hooch to generate electricity to sell to Florida.

I think a Pulitizer prize level investigation of this issue is just waiting for some smart journalist to pick up.

Lifelong Gwinnett Resident

August 4th, 2009
10:15 pm

Jay is right and I will go another step further: Given current posturing who is the bigger threat to your security in Gwinnett: Bob Riley or Osama bin Laden?

Tom Boland

August 5th, 2009
9:40 am

I rarely agree with Mr. Bookman but he is right on with his comments on this issue. Sonny pass the Biscuits” Perdue has helped destroy the credibility of Georgia as it relates the the “water wars” and transportation issues facing the state.

As far as, the urban/rural divide that has plagued Atlanta for decades; It doesn’t matter how much water you have and how many divided four lane highways you build connecting Willacoochee and Hahira if you don’t have a work force that has a level of legitimate education exceeding the third grade you are not going to atttract quality employers. Be honest, it is not the Metro Atlanta area that has held the state back. In fact, if not for Atlanta we would be in the same pitiful shape as Mississippi and Alabama.

Beowulf

August 5th, 2009
10:39 am

I – like many others here – find myself amazed and in complete agreement with Bookman! I have had thoughts along these lines for a while – but I want to take it one step further.

Alabama and Florida will certainly agree to let Atlanta keep taking drinking water from Lanier. But now that it is considered “theirs”, look for them to ask for a steep monetary cost to balance it out. In other words, we will pay them big bucks for any increases in future withdrawals – the status quo works when we are not in drought. But if ATL returns to massive growth circa 1990’s, it will need larger set-asides from the lake. That’s when we will start paying big $$$$. Look for it to happen in Gwinnett first, they don’t really have many other sources. Counties north and east of Gwinnett can add other reservoirs (I know Hall already has commissioned some), and their populations are lower. Downstream, the Allatoona-Coosa/Alabama River basin can be tapped as well, depending on separate rulings there.

I’d be amenable to paying them for extra water only if Alabama and Florida residents in the watershed also have to follow the same restrictions and conservation measures. Waste down there is no less damaging than waste here.

ATL

August 5th, 2009
11:20 am

Thank you for telling it like it is on this issue– truer words have seldom been spoken…
to think Atlanta’s loss will be rural Georgia or Alabama’s gain shows how truly out of touch with reality these folks are– its about the open attitudes, workforce quality, education levels, the arts and cultural opportunities that go with being a big city– not about state ‘promotion’ or cheap land… Wake up Macon, Mongomery and Hahira, Atlanta’s loss is Ga’s loss, and the region’s loss as well…

Langford

August 5th, 2009
1:52 pm

Jay, not so sure you have your facts right about the amount spent by the state for economic development outside of the Metro area. Atlanta has plenty of growth. Spreading it around will be good for the whole state.

That said, you are dead on about Alabama. Their biggest problem is they are in Alabama.

Dixie Kitty

August 6th, 2009
10:25 am

I’ve been reading all about this “water war”; however, no one has yet to explain to me why Florida and Alabama believe they have the rights to water that is in Georgia. If the water was in Alabama, I would understand; if the water was in Florida, I would understand. But this water is in Georgia and it seems to me that water in Georgia should be used for Georgia as it flows down stream. Once it flows into other states and pools there in their lakes and reseviors, then it is their water and not Georgia’s. But then I do tend to see things in black and white.

Daedalus

August 6th, 2009
10:30 am

Good post Jay.

As for those that claim that Atlanta is subsidized by the rest of the state, it just ain’t so and repeating a lie over and over does not make it true. GSU Prof Bluestone recently provided a report [http://aysps.gsu.edu/frc/files/Rpt_188FIN.pdf] that shows that metro Atlanta pays more in state taxes than it receives — the report states:

‘We find that the Atlanta metropolitan area generates more revenue than it receives in expenditures…”

I remember that when this report came out a few months ago Jim Wooten had a hissy fit since it didn’t fit his opinion that metro Atlanta was subsidized by the rest of the state.

As for those that think the water issue is the City’s problem — that’s simply not so. Its Gwinnett County that gets its water from Lake Lanier, not the city. Atlanta takes its water from the Hooch — Georgia is a riparian rights state, if you live next to the river, you can take as much water as the state permitting system will allow. The failure to plan is Gwinnett’s, not Atlanta’s.

A couple of years ago the City bought land along the NW corridor of the Beltline for a drinking water reservoir and park [http://www.pondco.com/portfolios/cd-lh.html] — which shows the City is at least trying to think about future water needs — without simply sticking a straw in Lake Lanier or annexing Tennessee.

A better question is whether Atlanta will actually be able to pull off building the reservoir or the Beltline at all.

a

August 6th, 2009
12:18 pm

I am with Dixie Kitty. Why should it be Florida or Alabama’s water when Lake Lanier is in Georgia? How does another state have the right to something that isn’t in their state? Alabama has Lake Martin near Auburn/Opelika. They have Logan-Martin near Birmingham. Why do they need water from Lake Lanier. And like someone else mentioned if you go don I-85 to Lanette/Valley, Al right on the Ga/Al line the Chattahoochie is always flowing full even during our worst droughts.

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