View Full Version : Atlanta Gov. seeks rural Ga's. support for renewed push in water war.

08-07-2009, 05:55 PM
Ga. governor deals with water battle at home, too
By GREG BLUESTEIN Associated Press Writer

Aug 7th, 2009 | ALBANY, Ga. -- The age-old tension between rural Georgia and its sprawling metropolis may only intensify because of a federal ruling that could keep essential reservoir water from trickling into Atlanta.

That tension meant Gov. Sonny Perdue had a delicate task during trip this week to rural Albany in southwest Georgia: Convince communities that the water crisis threatening Atlanta also imperils the entire state.

After all, many rural residents have long feared that metro Atlanta could stick its giant straw into water sources that supply their towns, fuel utilities and feed their agricultural irrigation systems.

On Thursday, Perdue was abruptly reminded of how difficult that may be.

"The crisis is in Atlanta," said Paul DeLoach of Flint Riverkeeper, a local conservation group, suggesting the rural region shouldn't be concerned about the ruling.

Perdue quickly corrected him. "No, the crisis is in Georgia," he said.

The governor needs rural Georgia behind him to present a united front as the long-running regional tug-of-war between Georgia, Alabama and Florida intensifies with threats of more litigation and an escalating war of words.

However, the concern outside Atlanta has only grown since a judge ruled last month that Georgia had little legal right to Lake Lanier, a massive federal reservoir that supplies more than 3 million metro Atlanta residents.

Editorial pages lament that "chronically overdeveloped" Atlanta will try to soak up more water before it meanders downstream. Environmentalists say the city should pay for its sins. Farmers fear for their livelihood.

"When you're growing sweet corn, you can't stop the irrigation," said Hal Haddock, a farmer in nearby Early County. "Those crops out there, you just can't turn off."

The governor sought to calm those concerns during his journey this week, saying he didn't want south Georgia residents to be territorial about their water.

"The fact is, what's good for the goose is going to be good for the gander -- all over the state," he said.

"Our futures are maybe more closely linked than they would imagine at first glance," he added in an interview with The Associated Press.

He has his work cut out for him, said state Rep. Bob Hanner, who took in the governor's talk with about 150 other local officials.

"If Atlanta's cut off from water, they may look to us," said Hanner, a Democrat from the nearby town of Parrott. "Atlanta is the engine that drives the state, but we've got to start developing outside the metro area if we're going to grow."

Georgia has been locked in a legal struggle over federal water rights with its neighbors for nearly two decades. It only escalated after a judge ruled on June 17 that withdrawals from Lake Lanier could be drastically cut if Congress doesn't approve a deal within three years.

That pressing deadline has sent Georgia's leaders scrambling for a solution.

Perdue has outlined a multi-pronged effort that includes appealing the judge's decision and inviting the governors of Alabama and Florida back to the negotiating table.

He also told the AP that Georgia is preparing to make Florida's environmental record and a 150-year-old Supreme Court ruling that could give Georgia more access to a key river a larger focus of its legal case.

And he did not rule out the possibility of embracing interbasin water transfers, the controversial practice of shifting water from one river basin to another, but said such a discussion should come "far down the line."

There was another reason for his downstream visit, too, that quickly became evident at a local college in Albany. As Perdue mulled questions and ticked through a presentation, he sought to unify the state behind a common threat: The neighbors.

Florida residents, he said, don't care which river their water comes from.

"They'd be happy to drain them all, if they can keep that flow," he said.

DeLoach, for his part, said he took little comfort in the governor's words.

"He's tried to unite the troops to create some unity and he's trying to convince us because Atlanta's having a crisis, we're all under a crisis," he said. "But I don't agree. The crisis is an Atlanta crisis."

Salon provides breaking news articles from the Associated Press as a service to its readers, but does not edit the AP articles it publishes.



08-07-2009, 06:11 PM
UPDATE: Judge To GA: Stop Taking Water From Lake Lanier

Associated Press Writer
Published: July 17, 2009

http://www2.wsav.com/sav/news/state_regional/article/update_judge_to_ga_stop_taking_water_from_lake_lan ier/27589/

5:35 p.m.:
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s Response to Federal Judge's Order

“Obviously, I am deeply disappointed by Judge Magnuson’s decision today. His conclusions rely on decades-old assumptions about the construction of federal reservoirs and the role those reservoirs play in providing water supply for growing states such as Georgia. Our country has changed substantially since the 1940s, when many of these reservoirs were constructed, and I will use this opportunity not only to appeal the judge’s decision but, most importantly, to urge Congress to address the realities of modern reservoir usage. The judge’s ruling allows a three-year window for either Congressional action or an agreement by the states and we will work diligently with Georgia’s delegation and members of Congress to re-establish the proper use of federal reservoirs throughout the country.”

WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that Georgia must stop withdrawing water within three years from a federal reservoir outside Atlanta that is the city’s main water supply.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled Friday that Georgia must stop withdrawing water from Lake Lanier unless it can get permission from Congress to do so.

The judge says Lake Lanier wasn’t built for water supply and that Atlanta’s withdrawals from the lake are illegal.

The judge acknowledged it would be impossible for the state to immediately stop using the lake because it is Atlanta’s main water supply. So he is allowing three years for the state to seek proper authority from Congress.

Florida, Georgia and Alabama have been in a legal and political battle over water rights since the early 1990s.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


08-08-2009, 11:26 AM
Lake Lanier is "up" this year. eleven feet higher than same date a year ago, this is about 1 million acre feet more water.

For Lake Lanier's elevation graph, or historical hydrological data click on the Buford Dam icon from the below link. For historical hydrological lake data, see the tabs above the same graph, shown below, on the web's sites page.