Georgia’s charge of the water brigade

Looks like Georgia to me. (MELISSA ABBEY, MABBEY@AJC.COM)

Looks like Georgia to me. (MELISSA ABBEY, MABBEY@AJC.COM)

You wouldn’t know it by all the rain we’ve had lately, but Georgia needs water to satiate its thirst for growth.

And the best way to get water is to grab land.

Fortunately for us, Georgia politicians have an impeccable record (see Yazoo Land Fraud) when it comes to land deals and the good people of Tennessee probably won’t miss a sliver of land between us and the gushing Tennessee River.

Or maybe they will.

An article titled “Tennessee, Georgia at war over state line” in the Chattanooga Times Free Press seems to indicate they are onto us.

No matter, we have House Resolution 4 on our side, which states Georgia will take it all the way to the Supreme Court if Tennessee does not agree to swap 66.5 square miles of Tennessee land for a 1.5-mile strip of Tennessee land that Georgia would lay a monster pipe on to pump a billion gallons of water per day.

As someone who paid the Ga. 400 toll for years after the road was paid for, I don’t see why Tennessee has a problem with exchanging land with itself and giving Georgia a billion gallons of water per day in exchange for nothing.

Whatever happened to “love and water thy neighbor?”

Georgia lawmakers think the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a history of sticking it to the Peach State, will buy the argument that Georgia is legally entitled to about a mile of land stretching the length of the border.

Georgia claims when the two states were created in the late 1700s it was agreed the border would be the 35th parallel. But, in 1818, the states hired surveyors with an apparent penchant for sippin’ whisky who determined the border was about a mile south of the 35th parallel. Georgia never officially agreed to that blatant theft, but didn’t go to war over it at the appropriate time either.

During the drought, in 2008, Georgia legislators called for border negotiations but didn’t get their fantasy pipe, probably because the 40,000 or so residents of the area Tennessee would lose didn’t want to pay 6 percent state income taxes in exchange for a better college football team.

Now, Georgia lawmakers are trying again.

I’m not a betting man, but I’d wager Georgia has as much a chance of winning this one as Florida Gulf Coast has at winning the NCAA championship.

Maybe the problem isn’t that Atlanta doesn’t have enough water. Maybe the problem is too many people? Ponder that one next time you sit in traffic.

59 comments Add your comment

0bama=Manure

March 26th, 2013
9:30 am

This is Georgia simply taking a page out of the 0bammie Commie playbook and trying to take/steal what doesn’t belong to them (money, water, civil liberties, etc.)

Shame on You, Georgia!

rojer

March 26th, 2013
11:01 am

You must not have seen Florida Gulf Coast last weekend. Those guys can play.

Peter

March 26th, 2013
11:03 am

Georgia is redneck Republican run….. 0bama=Manure that was a dumb comment.

Centrist

March 26th, 2013
11:04 am

Remember when Boston College’s Doug Flutie made that “first” noticeable Hail Mary Pass?

MK

March 26th, 2013
11:06 am

A smart move for Tennessee would be to place some endangered aquatic species that are adversely affected by pumps and pipes in the area in question . Georgia will then have a hard time getting a water withdrawal permit.

Curious

March 26th, 2013
11:12 am

I believe TVA owns the 1.5 square mile strip GA needs to access the river.

Why not buy an easement to the river?

WAR EAGLE

March 26th, 2013
11:13 am

Are there any statute of limitations? And is Florida n Bama gonna want water too?

Homer

March 26th, 2013
11:15 am

Looks like Georgia to me too.

TN/GA Line

March 26th, 2013
11:17 am

Is this supposed to be considered journalism?

JimR

March 26th, 2013
11:18 am

Did you know that the Tenn. River starts out above Knoxville, flows South through Chatt, then flows South and West across Alabama, North back through Tenn. and then through Kentucky, empties into the Ohio River and then the Miss. River. Do you really think Alabama – already involved in a water war with Georgia is going to sit quietly by and let Ga. have any of the Tenn. River. Also the Tenn River is an entirely different echo system and you would be mixing that system with the Chatt. River and the environment people are not going to stand for it. Go ahead and try just don’t spend my money on this pipe dream, cause there aint never going to be a pipe from the Tenn. River to Atlanta. Stupid Rep. trying to make headlines.

MoFaux

March 26th, 2013
11:23 am

JimR: Alabama is not a factor in this. It’s a property dispute between Tenn. and Ga. Whether or not Georgia can win in court is anyone’s guess. I think we have a decent case, but since we waited so long, that might kill it. I’ll let the lawyers and judges figure it out, but bottom line is that land *should* be ours. And, what is an echo system? :-)

Biff Kabob

March 26th, 2013
11:25 am

I seem to recall our current Governor ran on the promise of building new reservoirs. Any word on how that is coming along?

Snidely Whiplash

March 26th, 2013
11:25 am

Why the snide tone, George? What’s your solution to Atlanta’s “too many people?” Deny them water? Are the “good people of Tennessee” more deserving of water because they don’t share Georgians’ “thirst for growth?”

People are moving here from all over the country, including Tennessee. It isn’t just us native Georgians who are using up the water. Tennesseans don’t mind migrating here to take advantage of our superior economy, but by gad, they ain’t gonna let us mess with their dang Tennessee pride!

It’s clear as water whose side you’re on, George; but the snide tone of your article failed to make a splash; in fact, you’re all washed up.

BE

March 26th, 2013
11:28 am

Georgia, the same state that ruined Tallulah Falls.

Obama made me drop my Cheetos

March 26th, 2013
11:39 am

Uh-oh, the anti-Obama crowd is already commenting. Must be too late for this thread already. Ha, morons.

alittlecommonsense

March 26th, 2013
11:40 am

A couple of points here -

First, Georgia does have a legitimate claim to the land in question due to the faulty survey. The court might find for us or it might find for Tennessee. A compromise that gives Georgia only a small unpopulated sliver of land should hurt TN in no way whatsoever. Probably less than the expense of a court battle even if they won.
Secondly, the loss of water would again impact TN not at all. If a neigbor asked me for something that would benefit him and cost me nothing, I would just give it to him. Why not?
Thirdly, a significant portion of the watershed of the TN river actually comes from Georgia. We would be taking back much less than we put in via the watershed.

This seems like a real commonsense compromise that doesn’t really hurt anyone.

Gary

March 26th, 2013
11:42 am

Its a little disengenuous for Georgia to insist that they are entitled to Tennessee water, then block water destined to the Florida gulf coast, endangering the natural fishery and shellfish nursery at Appalachicola Bay. The oyster industry is dying in Apalachicola so that suburban Atlantans can boat on Lake Lanier. That’s shameful.

Billy

March 26th, 2013
11:42 am

Not sure that the SC will side with Georgia. The SC hardly ever changes what is brought to it in state vs state cases. Ellis Island, NJ v NY, is a notable exception, but they usually let the existing situation stand instead of changing it. Not to say that the effort is doomed, but this is an uphill battle, as if you could understate the case.
As for all you redneck haters/hypocrites, if you don’t like it down here, WHY THE H— DON’T YOU LEAVE??? Take Bernie and GardenHose with you…

Billy

March 26th, 2013
11:44 am

Gary, the lake IS within the state boundaries of Georgia. Maybe that will aid your perspective. And BTW, people are more important than water. We may boat on it, but we definitely DRINK it. Hope that helps you to the Nth power to finally understand the REAL equation…

MK

March 26th, 2013
11:47 am

“If a neigbor asked me for something that would benefit him and cost me nothing, I would just give it to him. Why not?”

Because we live in a capitalist country. The price of something is not determined by how much someone who doesn’t need it is willing to pay for it, it’s determined by how much someone who DOES need it is willing to pay. Georgia needs water and would be willing to pay more than 0 dollars for it, so why shouldn’t Tennessee try to get the best deal possible?

sliderule

March 26th, 2013
11:53 am

Does anyone know the flow volume (gal per day) at Chattanooga? I.e. Is it a percentage that would be significant? (assuming removing a billion gal per day)

Kerry

March 26th, 2013
11:54 am

As a former GA resident now a TN resident. When Altanta and the Metro area was doing all the building, you would think they would ask and discussed water supply then. But they didn’t and now they need it badly. I said Atlanta that is your problem to fix not ours, leave our water alone, Next time when you plan a big project you will learn. If you get the water from us, you will just keep own building more and more till you will need more water, what state will be next after TN. Time to stop GA now,

atlpaddy

March 26th, 2013
11:56 am

With apologies to Johnny Horton:

In 2014 we took a little trip
Along with Nathan Deal across the Chickamauga creek,
We gathered up DORITOS® and our Big Gulps of sweet tea
And we whomped them bloody Vols in the state of Tennessee.

Taipei Personality

March 26th, 2013
12:04 pm

Gary, I recall reading an article (written by someone from that region) recently questioning also what impact the building of Sikes Cut had on the general salinity of the bay. If you open up another proverbial hole in the dam like that, it will increase the salinity of the bay with more Gulf water. That means that the flows from the ACF basin would also have to increase to keep the bay at its proper salinity level. But that’s garbage, because those of us on the ACF had nothing to do with that inlet being cut, and there is no reason we should be paying the price for the convenience that offered solely to the city of Apalachicola. The CoE has strict flow numbers they use for protecting an endangered species further up the river, but the Apalachicola oyster industry is not one of their key concerns, nor should it be. If it is determined that Sikes is having a negative effect on the estuary health, it needs to be filled back in.

Taipei Personality

March 26th, 2013
12:09 pm

Also, short of seriously building a canal or something, Atlanta wouldn’t pull enough water from the Tennessee to even be noticeable. Bigger key would be where the return (interbasin transfer) would be. I’d say ACF would be alright, since it would help all involved parties, could use existing water return infrastructure, and it all does eventually wind up in the Gulf anyway.

John Ellison

March 26th, 2013
12:17 pm

Tennessee is not going to give Georgia something for nothing in return. The value of anything is based on the amount someone is willing to pay. Tennessee water has value to Georgia. How much is Georgia willing to pay Tennessee for the water?

Taipei Personality

March 26th, 2013
12:20 pm

J.E. – Well I personally like the idea that was floated out a couple years ago, where we collaboratively help build a high speed rail to the Chattanooga airport. Face it, our NIMBYs will never allow a second ATL airport and Chattanooga is begging to be just that. So, build them together on the same ROW, would combine costs and allow for secondary source of revenue. Not that it would be self-sufficient but it could help…

Ray

March 26th, 2013
12:35 pm

If you ever saw ‘How the States Got Their Shapes’ you will realize that that land was Georgia’s originally. I say we march up there with about 300 Georgia Boy’s and shoot our way in, lay the pipe, then shoot our way out. Survival of the toughest …and I know them Tennessee Volunqueers couldn’t hold.
WOOF-

PM

March 26th, 2013
12:53 pm

We have the ‘Hooch and look what happens to that river south of I-20 parallel to Fulton Industrial. Look, but don’t touch or smell it. The solution to too many people, not enough conservation and too much sprawl is not to grab another billion gallons a day. Instead, it is better management of what we have, telling people to cut back (with personal freedom goes personal responsibility), and enforcing restrictions on discharge.

Some folks would say get rid of the EPA, get rid of the laws and rules and restrictions and let people do what they want, and if they actually did that, we’d end up with a river on fire like the one in Ohio and nothing to drink.

David Puddy

March 26th, 2013
12:57 pm

I think the statue of limitations has already past.

alittlecommonsense

March 26th, 2013
12:59 pm

“Tennessee is not going to give Georgia something for nothing in return. The value of anything is based on the amount someone is willing to pay. Tennessee water has value to Georgia. How much is Georgia willing to pay Tennessee for the water?”

Not entirely an unreasonable position, but we are offerning them something. We are offering to drop a claim to a much larger piece of land. If they have a counteroffer I’m sure it would be listened to.

And I would also say that TN doesn’t own the water. They just have a right to use it as it flows through thier state.

Jefferson

March 26th, 2013
1:08 pm

Reasonable people can come to reasonable conclusions under reasonable conditions, unless you are a republican.

Synonomous

March 26th, 2013
1:16 pm

“Georgia claims when the two states were created in the late 1700s it was agreed the border would be the 35th parallel.”

It’s not a ‘claim’, that is what Congress designated the border would be. It’s not our fault it was surveyed wrongly to give Tennessee more land than they should have received. We have a strong case that can and should be taken to the USSC.

alittlecommonsense

March 26th, 2013
1:19 pm

Thanks Jefferson for that wonderful piece of witticism that I have only seen twenty or thirty times on other AJC forums. You really add a lot to a conversation every time you post it.

SloppyJ85

March 26th, 2013
1:20 pm

Just moved from Atlanta to Nashville. Atlanta is on a huge downswing let me tell you. I am in the large scale construction industry so I am seeing it first hand. This is what happens when the Liberals and Minorities take over. There are many examples.

BS

March 26th, 2013
1:23 pm

All that land in question was originally Georgia’s and only through a surveyors mistake did it wind up in Tennessee’s hands. The state of Georgia has argued this over the centuries. Message to Obama= manure, my good neighbor, do you know how infantile you sound.

Cosby

March 26th, 2013
1:33 pm

conserve water…drink beer….really….watch Metro Atlanta and the nut jobs there attempt tp pull water from anywhere in the State…no stream, pond, creek is safe the the Atlanta vultures…but then if all the yankees left…what a beautiful place it would become!!

Alphare

March 26th, 2013
1:33 pm

All natural resources belong the federal government as I understand. So that water doesn’t really belong to TN. We can pay some landlords to have a pipe set up to “share” that water. That would be our cost.

Alphare

March 26th, 2013
1:39 pm

SloppyJ85,

“This is what happens when the Liberals and Minorities take over”

The governor and state legislature are all in the hands of republicans!

You are an idiot, no wonder you moved to Nashville, the singing place.

Talladawg

March 26th, 2013
2:15 pm

What many in the General Assembly (and general population) do not realize is that simply owning a small portion of one shore of a water body does not entitle an entity to all of the water and other resources within that water body, forever. At some point in our future as human beings we will have to deal with true conservation. Why do we not start the effort when we can take small steps and not wait until circumstances are dire? Georgia is so far behind the times it is getting embarassing to say I am from there. Talk about an entitlement mentality.

Talladawg

March 26th, 2013
2:20 pm

@SloppyJ85 – the large-scale construction industry is what got Atlanta to this point. (And, make no mistake this is only about Atlanta, not GA as a whole.)

Steve

March 26th, 2013
2:25 pm

Most state borders are drawn incorrectly. Surveying equipment was bad back when states were mapped out. In fact, the state of Tennessee’s northern border is supposed to be straight across. But bad surveying gave it a couple of dips here and there. Probably every state has incorrect borders. Shame on Georgia for making a spectacle out of this. Pathetic, really.

Steve

March 26th, 2013
2:28 pm

And by the way, the fact that the TN-GA border is off by only a mile shows how good this surveyor actually was! There are state borders off by 20 miles! I wonder why Alabama isn’t complaining about their border with Tennessee? Maybe they have a little class?

ronney

March 26th, 2013
2:52 pm

Putting a water outlet just downstream from Chattanooga’s sewer system is not appetizing. Neither is siphoning water close to Chattanooga creeks flowing into the Tennessee River that are so polluted there are signs up forbidding human contact with the water. Chattanooga is laughing at Atlanta for wanting this stuff. It will make us sick. Or is this the plan?

Jefferson

March 26th, 2013
3:15 pm

Folks, most of you seem reasonable, so why is the state elected folks acting unreasonable — must be most of them are republicans.

Blu Ray

March 26th, 2013
3:23 pm

Since the GA Lawmakers feel so strongly about the three or four Georgia tributaries that they claim feed into the Tennessee River and comprise roughly “6 %” of the river’s daily volume, how about a common sense approach instead?

Let the State of Georgia simply build damns across those four creeks and streams and Georgia just keeps all the water that from those streams their reservoirs can hold?

We all know why, don’t we?. They only would provide 725 million gallons a day, that’s why. And those 725 million gallons per day are only a proverbial drop in the bucket. Greedy ATL needs far, far more than that. Tennessee’s repsonse to the ATL should be:

“Stay thirsty, my friends!”

Blu Ray

March 26th, 2013
3:46 pm

sliderule asked: <>

According to House Rule 4 verbiage, “Georgia’s streams and creeks feed the Tennessee River,” Shafer said. “In fact, over six percent of the water of the Tennessee River originates in Georgia.”

That supposed 6% equates to 725 million gallons per day which isn’t remotely enough to satisfy ATL’s daily requirement. Tennessee should tell Georgia keep your little six percent. Build damns on those creeks and streams and whatever the reservoirs can hold from those strams is all yours. But that’s all you get. If you want more, go pound sand.

joe

March 26th, 2013
3:47 pm

Ga has no chance…just like their football team, which by the way has a record of 758–402–54. UT on the other hand is 799-354-53 ranking them eighth on the list of all-time winningest major college programs.

alittlecommonsense

March 26th, 2013
4:09 pm

“Let the State of Georgia simply build damns(sp) across those four creeks and streams and Georgia just keeps all the water that from those streams their reservoirs can hold? ”

I’m sure Blu Ray is smart enough to know that it would be FAR from simple to dam and re-route those streams. If it was “simple”, it would have already be done.

Steve

March 26th, 2013
4:20 pm