Saturday, February 09, 2008

Water wars

Tennessee continues to be a source of envy for its southern neighbors:
A resolution in Georgia's legislature proposes to move the Tennessee-Georgia boundary about a mile to the north of where it now lies, which could put Kyle right back into the state he left 15 years ago.
It's not only the east end. Mississippi has a long running lawsuit against the city of Memphis for "stealing" water out of the underground aquifer that spans the state line. They claim Memphis is pumping more than her fair share. Not sure how they'd exactly know, and apparently a local federal judge doesn't either. No surprise--just think of the potential precedent.

The east Tennessee situation is more interesting. Lake Lanier, Atlanta's drinking water source, is going down fast in the great southeastern drought and desperate times make politicians desperate, especially those faced with coming reelections.

According to the Chattanooga Civic Forums the state line IS off by a mile or so, just off the agreed-to 35th parallel, just as Georgia claims. If true, that would place the Georgia state line up against Nickajack reservoir on the Tennessee River, where presumably they could pump water (with oversight from the Army Corp of Engineers).

Here's a map to show just how close, courtesy mapquest:

Seems like they should be able to work things out without firing shots. Georgia needs water, but people who legally moved into what they thought was Tennessee should not be forced back into Georgia against their will. Besides, Nashville would be swamped with lawsuits.

How about this--rather than acceding to Georgia and allowing widespread annexation, broker a deal where they get access to Nickajack via a narrow right of way to the reservoir, just enough for a pipeline. Affected landowners would receive payments above market value for property seized through imminent domain but would remain residents of Tennessee. And have the Corp of Engineers control the water flow down the pipe not the state of Georgia, to alleviate downstream concerns. Just a thought.

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