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The South will Rise
February 22, 2008 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Tennesse and Georgia's war over water There are about five million residents in north Georgia affected by the drought. The phrase "if its brown flush it down, if its yellow let it mellow" has become part of the local jargon in an attempt to encourage water conservation.

Two weeks ago two Republican lawmakers, Sen. David Shafer and Rep. Harry Geisinger,proposed that Georgians simply invade their northern neighbor and take their water.
Citing a survey from the 1800s, they claim that the state border has crept southward in an incorrect manner and advocate restoring the pre-1818 state lines. The obvious reason for this is the millions of gallons of water in the Tennessee River, one mile north of the present border.

"I would offer to settle this dispute over a friendly game of football, but that would be unfair to the State of Georgia,” said Tennessee State Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, rubbing salt in the wound inflicted by the Volunteers upon the Bulldogs last year.
posted by meeshell (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
When states begin rumblings about redrawing borders and secession, one can't help but wonder about the state of the union.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:50 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile: Outdoor watering restrictions relaxed in Ga.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 AM on February 22, 2008


So I assume this means southern conservative politicians are now willing to see the light on the environment...?
posted by DU at 8:57 AM on February 22, 2008


In 1818, Georgia would have had a pretty decent argument. 190 years later, not so much.
posted by brain_drain at 8:58 AM on February 22, 2008


Georgia can have the pond in my backyard if they'll take Zach Wamp.
posted by Gianna at 8:59 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought the drought had reached emergency crisis levels last summer, yet I see that the region is still in a drought and there's been no more serious news coming out of that area. Was the media crying wolf over the problems last summer? I'd like to understand why the drought has been overstated (or understated, as the case may be).
posted by crapmatic at 9:04 AM on February 22, 2008


The drought has serious economic consequences for the little towns in northern Georgia. All the pleasure lakes are now brown pits, and real-estate sales figures and tourist dollars are abysmal. My ex lives there and wants to get out but can't sell her house because no one wants to look down the hill onto mud. Not a good situation.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2008


N.B. by pleasure lakes I mean those once-wet reservoirs behind the dams.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2008


why the drought has been overstated (or understated, as the case may be).

Drought's are not black and white on/off.
posted by stbalbach at 9:21 AM on February 22, 2008


In the conclusion to his book Consilience,E.O.Wilson said that one of the 2 big looming issues confronting mankind, both here and abroad,was a shortage of water. He was right and not much done about it since he said it.
posted by Postroad at 9:27 AM on February 22, 2008


This is a nice update to this thread. It looks like my home state is going out of its way to piss off all of its neighbors over water use: look out, South Carolina-you're next! (Actually there has been a lot of speculation that metro Atlanta is eyeing the Savannah River Basin, which would impact SC.)
posted by TedW at 9:29 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


...yet I see that the region is still in a drought and there's been no more serious news coming out of that area.

The drought hasn't been overstated, but the story is what it is. What else are they going to report?

"DROUGHT WATCH: Day 206 -- Georgia STILL hasn't gotten enough rain to replenish its drastically depleted water supply. Residents STILL encouraged to conserve water in every way possible. Film at 11."

That's a lame story for local news, and completely useless and irrelevant story for national news. They told you about the drought when it reached a crisis level. Now the crisis level is pretty much status quo. The media aren't going to report status quo (unless it's a really slow news day).

What HAS been in the news (local and national) recently, however, is the court case between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida over Lake Lanier water rights. And the drought has been included in those stories, obviously and appropriately, as context/backstory.
posted by somanyamys at 9:39 AM on February 22, 2008


Crapmatic, here in Augusta, GA, the drought is mentioned daily in the news, although there is relatively little in-depth coverage. There has been some rain this winter (it is raining here as I speak) which has given the appearance of relief, but in reality we are already behind normal averages for the first two months of 2008. A 21st century dust bowl in the southeast is a real possibility.
posted by TedW at 9:56 AM on February 22, 2008


See also MeFi Projects.
posted by grabbingsand at 10:52 AM on February 22, 2008


The obvious reason for this is the millions of gallons of water in the Tennessee River, one mile north of the present border.

Is there such animosity between the two states that Tennessee wouldn't let Georgia pipe water in? I might be able to understand if they don't want the water treatment plant right on the river, but is there any reason it couldn't be built on Georgia soil?

And using some old law to try and redraw your boarders? Wow, ballsy. Speaking of which, is anyone interested in these documents I have which show, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Northern most hundred miles of Illinois actually are a part of Wisconsin? I only mention it because I really hate driving on toll roads when going to Chicago.
posted by quin at 10:59 AM on February 22, 2008


Is there such animosity between the two states that Tennessee wouldn't let Georgia pipe water in?<>

water is getting scarce in the region. This type of fight is only the beginning.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2008


"When states begin rumblings about redrawing borders and secession, one can't help but wonder about the state of the union."

Who cares? They've already had their primaries, and neither is considered a battleground state. Fuck 'em if they can't make a vote.
posted by Eideteker at 11:07 AM on February 22, 2008


This is why state borders should have been based on watersheds.
posted by MillMan at 11:11 AM on February 22, 2008


Call me a lunatic, but if the 35th parallel was set as the legal boundary and some surveyor fucked that up, the boundary is still the 35th parallel. If Tennessee voted to make southern Maine part of their state because some guy fucked up a survey that wouldn't make it so.

Georgia extends all the way to 35 degrees N Latitude. That is a fact no matter what people may wish to believe and will stay that way until we choose to sell or give that land away.
posted by Megafly at 11:48 AM on February 22, 2008




I thought the drought had reached emergency crisis levels last summer, yet I see that the region is still in a drought and there's been no more serious news coming out of that area. Was the media crying wolf over the problems last summer? I'd like to understand why the drought has been overstated (or understated, as the case may be).


From what I've read, the La Nina weather pattern means unusually low rainfall for much of the Southeast. The La Nina weather pattern will hopefully not last too much longer, and water will once more come down from the sky, and all of that.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:50 AM on February 22, 2008


brain_drain, this isn't the first time we've seen action about the 35th parallel...

Georgia never ratified the Tennessee border, and brought cases afterwards in the 1800s (as late as the 1880s), again in the 1940s, and back in the 70s as well. So far, nobody has cared, but this may have a bit more ...er... oomph, now that water rights are involved. Not that Georgia could take a single drop out of a system with multiple-state access without first doing the required song-and-dance, and I just don't see the TVA giving up generation capacity.
posted by dwivian at 12:00 PM on February 22, 2008


I also check out this blog from time to time to follow the drought. The author hasn't put as much effort into it as of late but it's certainly worth mining if you want more info.

There is quite a bit of local and regional media coverage on the drought. It just doesn't get much national attention.
posted by MillMan at 12:06 PM on February 22, 2008


mmm....

i knew i shoulda invested in Dune style water recylcing suits

the future is soon! and in GA!
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 12:09 PM on February 22, 2008


As an Atlantan, I hope some sort of legal reasoning akin to adverse possession comes into play. Northern Georgians are horribly wasteful, and are typically Southern in their no-taxes mindset, which leads to there being little money for things like water reclamation efforts and other infrastructure upgrade to reduce loss. And now he's reducing the restrictions (as Brandon Blatcher pointed out)?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:21 PM on February 22, 2008


In short, it's Georgia's own damned fault, and I have no pity.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:22 PM on February 22, 2008


In the conclusion to his book Consilience,E.O.Wilson said that one of the 2 big looming issues confronting mankind, both here and abroad,was a shortage of water. He was right and not much done about it since he said it.

That's not true, actually. The bottling companies are quickly and very easily training us to pay $1 or more for a liter of tap water.
posted by troybob at 2:27 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fun part is going to be when Georgia sues California because its excessive sin has drawn the wrath of god to our great nation.
posted by troybob at 2:37 PM on February 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


As an Atlantan, I hope some sort of legal reasoning akin to adverse possession comes into play.

You're from Atlantis? But from what I understand, the problem with Atlantis was too much water.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:50 PM on February 22, 2008 [3 favorites]


I grew up in Milpitas, California in the 1980s during a drought with such water restrictions. I remember that saying.
posted by vsync at 2:55 PM on February 22, 2008


If you wanted households to stop wasting water, you could just make the first X gallons per household (adjusted for number of occupants) cost you very little (because you need that much to live) and make every gallon after that cost too much to waste. Household water consumption would be cut in half. Fine.

But the biggest users of water in Georgia (and everywhere else) aren't people washing dishes or having showers, they're farmers watering their crops. They need to change the way they do things, to grow only climate-appropriate crops, for instance, and to use smart irrigation systems. If they did, the water savings would be as good as running an extra river through the state without having to pick up and move the boundary line.
posted by pracowity at 3:50 PM on February 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is an early battle on the Water Wars (tm).

Catch 'em in a neighborhood near you!
posted by Balisong at 4:26 PM on February 22, 2008


Population growth?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:14 PM on February 22, 2008


"I would offer to settle this dispute over a friendly game of football, but that would be unfair to the State of Georgia,”

I would find this SO FUNNY except, as a Georgia resident, I'm rather more busy making the acquaintance of a little French boy I just met who claims he just got here from outer space.
posted by JHarris at 1:01 AM on February 23, 2008


After stepping out of the country for a little while, I wonder why the US doesn't have dual flush toilets. You know, a little flush for #1's and a secondary, bigger flush for when there's more that needs flushing.
posted by Phredward at 1:49 AM on February 24, 2008


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