Sunday, October 21, 2007

Water, Water, Everywhere: But Not In Atlanta

There is a song from 1970 that made it to #4 on the US charts. It was song by a soul singer named Brook Benton and it was called, A Rainy Night In Georgia. Having lived in Macon for a couple of years, I distinctly remember there would be stretches of 2-3 weeks, where it would rain, over and over again.

Today, it's not that way. What the residents wouldn't give to see 2 weeks of solid soaking rain, right now.

Having friends and family in Atlanta, we often get detailed descriptions of how life is playing out there at any given time. And I have to say, from where I sit, it isn't looking good there at this stage of the time continuum. People simply cannot imagine how critical the current water shortage really is. As of this writing, Lake Lanier will be dry within three months. And I mean bone dry. (This is a lake with a 692 mile shoreline.)

But as I say all of this, as I highlight all of this discouraging news, it might not be as bleak as it looks right now, if certain people would look at priorities in a different light. A viable short-term solution could be implemented to ease (at least) some of the hardship, of this catastrophe. But alas, it's not.

You see, Georgia has two huge man-made reservoirs, Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. They are run by the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), normally a fine federal entity. I say this because, they are not doing a fine job, right now. They have within their power, the opportunity to ease some of the hardship caused by a severe drought in this part of the country.

So how can this be eased, you ask?

ACE could just slow the rate that the runoff is dumped out of the dam, thus conserving precious H2O, necessary for the maintenance of homeostasis in the human body. But they aren't. They could give the word and it would be done. But they won't. They could do something to help citizens of the United States of America that pay taxes and contribute greatly to the country, as a whole. They simply do not want to.

Why would they not help their countrymen? The answer can be found in this article.

Florida has complained the state is not sending enough water downstream to protect endangered and threatened mussels on the banks of a drying river. And Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has urged the corps to release more water from Georgia's lakes to help his state cope with the dry conditions.

On the surface it would seem like Alabama has a case. But in the case of Florida, I have to ask, who laced Florida officials' drinks with "stupid potion"? Since when did the needs of lower orders of life, become more of a priority over the immediate needs of man? I bet if the roles were reversed, Florida would complain just as the citizens of Georgia are.

Meanwhile, back to the fine people of Alabama and their need to "cope with the dry conditions". From what I have heard, there are no provisions in Alabama law to ban excessive and unnecessary water usage, in times of crisis. And they are not doing it. Florida isn't, either. In fact, the only areas with a ban in force are areas in northern and central Georgia.

You might be tempted to say this doesn't effect me, as I do not live in Atlanta or the surrounding environs. But as the shortage continues to play havoc on the people that live there, many things will be effected.

Do you drink Coca-Cola? Guess what? No water in Atlanta, means no Coca-Cola throughout the eastern part of the U.S. (and yes, this means you people in Alabama and Florida). But that's not the half of it. All industries in the greater Atlanta area that need and use water as part of their process, will not be able to operate.

This means many things will not be available, which means supplies will go down, which means prices will be going up.

How about the workers that work in the areas that use water as part of the industrial process? No water for production, means no work. Massive layoffs may occur, meaning many people will be losing their jobs.

This will create a huge ripple effect across the board to other industries or businesses that do not depend on water for their business. (And not only in the Atlanta metro area, but all over the country.) No jobs mean no purchases of any value. No purchases of any value means, other companies may feel the pinch and have to layoff, or will be forced to raise their prices to take up the slack.

But more than any economic concerns this may generate, there is a humanitarian issue at stake here. The people of Atlanta will not be able to have drinking water to survive on, unless you count the already price-gouged bottled water. No bathing, no drinking, no jobs.

So to those of you in Florida that are looking at this through ego-centric glasses, be proud of yourselves. You are saving mussels and sturgeon, but you are about destroy a city and an entire part of the nation that depends heavily on that city. And to you people from Alabama that are doing the same, you too can be proud of yourselves. Your failure to see the plight of your neighbor and your refusal to conserve (because there is no provision in the law of your state to do so) will be also contribute greatly to the second fall of Atlanta.

Note: The lawsuit filed by the state of Georgia against the ACE was filed and will be heard in, Jacksonville Florida. Do you think there will be some bias there?


In the market for some new carpet? Better not delay, better get it now. The carpet mills the northern part of the state are already about to really feel the pinch, which means price will be rising soon. Check it out here.


Anonymous said...

This is an amazing chain of events, LA. Georgia’s governor was on the news today, confessing that he really had no idea about how to proceed . . . it’s never happened before. I can empathize with the gentleman, but I have to ask why anyone waited until the water levels were so low to announce a “crisis.”

State battles over ecological issues aren’t new. California and Nevada have been in court over water rights for ages. Even assuming that every single citizen in Alabama wants to help Georgia, state governments pay scant attention to our individual concerns.

In Florida, we are in a perpetual state of water rationing. Our lakes are drying up, and rainfall is insufficient to replace usage and evaporation. The cost of maintaining agriculture is off the page . . . little more than penalties for water usage, I assume.

What is possible in resolving this issue? Whatever that is, let us hope government, for once, will get to it.

LASunsett said...


//I can empathize with the gentleman, but I have to ask why anyone waited until the water levels were so low to announce a “crisis.”//

In Atlanta, they have been rationing for months now. Maybe they thought that by now there would be some rain.

The point I was trying to make is, now there is an opportunity to at least prolong the inevitable, yet, the states of Florida and Alabama are lobbying to keep the water coming from a lake that is almost dry, despite the fact there is a crisis going on.

If Florida and Alabama were at the same desperate stage Atlanta is in, there would be no post here. But to make the claim that a mussel and a sturgeon are more important to someone than the welfare of 3 million people, it warrants one.

Believe me, the question you ask has been asked by residents already. But that isn't going to solve the crisis, now. Stemming the flow of water from these lakes won't avert anything long-term either. The only thing that will help is rain and lots of it.

It's a case of we'll deal with how we got here, later. Now, we have to do something.

Greg said...

Seems to me the only way to fix this problem is to bring more rain to the southeast (the west could use some rain too). Maybe if we buy some carbon credits....

A.C. McCloud said...

I tend to believe the COE is in between a rock and a hard place. It will probably take an order from Bush to get them to stop releasing. Part of the reason it's never been worse is due to the number of Yankees that have moved to Georgia these past few decades.. ;-)

We have a weird water war, too. Mississippi is claiming that Memphis is sucking too much water out of the aquifer (really tasty H20, btw), which spans the state line. Memphis is simply drilling straight down.

A.C. McCloud said...

Found this while surfing around. Water class wars.

Greg said...

Weatherman said the southeast could get some good soaking rains this week. Thank goodness!

Now, my brother lives in Escondido, near San Diego. They've had some serious drought, and now some really big fires. He called yesterday and said he couldn't get back to his house from work b/c of the fires. But he didn't want to talk about that. He said, "All anyone wants to talk about around here is the fire. I want to talk about the Red Sox!" lol

Timothy said...

Um, the water downstream of Atlanta is also used to cool a nuclear power plant. Even if one turned of the rector and pushed in the rods, it wouild take about a year for the reactor to cool down. Water downstream is critical unless one desires a meltdown.

Also, numerous florida communities rely on the downstream water. Focusing on the mussels is over-simplifying the problem.