Lake Lanier is Up, but Down, and the Center of a Political Storm

When I recently drove across the Buford Dam, which backs up the waters of Lake Lanier,  the lake looked pretty full.  It’s 5.35 feet below full pool level.  Compared to record low levels caused by the the 2007 drought,  it looked full. 

Lake Lanier, view from Buford Dam RD,  Buford, Georgia

Lake Lanier, view from Buford Dam RD, Buford, Georgia

That impression has to be tempered with the fact that the lake is dropping again, releasing  a lot more water than its collecting from its watershed. In fact, it is down about a foot from June. 

Now, to complicate matters even further,  a federal judge, as you probably know, has ruled that Metro Atlanta doesn’t have the right to take water from the lake,  and will have to stop in three years unless Congress passes a law changing the designated purpose of the lake,  flood control and generation of hydroelectric power. 

The judge’s ruling is being hailed as a great victory for Alabama, who wants the water to cool a nuclear power plant, and Florida, who wants a good flow to protect its oyster crop at Apalachicola.

That ruling, however, is a disaster for the Atlanta area, and, some believe, since the Atlanta economic engine is so important to the state, the rest of Georgia has to be very concerned.

There is another reason a lot of  us wanting Metro Atlanta to have the water it needs, relatives who live there.  I took a look a the lake Sunday because I happened to be visiting my son Rick, daughter-in-law Marian, and my two  grandsons, Ben and Chris. They live in Cumming, which is no distance at all from the lake.

Being a downstream Columbusite, I want a good, steady Chattahoochee River flow for our area,  and I can sympathise with Alabama and Florida,  but I am still concerned about the Atlanta area.  It is the economic engine that drives this state, and it’s our state’s big league city.  Besides that, like me,  just about everyone in Georgia has a relative or friend who lives in Metro Atlanta.

What to do? What to do?

Governor Perdue is taking legal action, and has asked the states two Republican Senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, to go to work to get Congressional approval of a law that allows Atlanta to take water from the lake.  The say they will.

Some are saying that, instead of relying on that approach, the state should start developing alternative sources for the water, things like more resorvoirs and getting Tennessee to allow Georgia to take some its water from the Tennessee River,  a part of which might actually be inside the Georgia state line.  That assumption is being protested by folks in Tennessee.

There is a lot of blame to go around in this water mess.  Many political leaders have basically ignored the problem for a long time.  They might like to continue to ignore it, but they can’t.  It has reached the crisis stage.

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