Will a Conservation Law and a Court Appeal Solve Atlanta’s Water Crisis?

When I visit my son, Rick, daughter-in-law, Marian, and my grandsons, Benjamin and Christopher, in Cumming, I always have the yen to take a look at the latest condition of Lake Lanier.  That’s because of the incredible drought scenes I saw in 2007.  The picture has definately changed. Rick took me for a ride across Buford Dam Saturday evening, and the lake is beautiful again.  It’s virtually full.   

Lake Lanier, Oct. 20, 2007

Lake Lanier, April 18,2010

But, the fight over drinking water withdrawal rights is far from beautiful. It’s downright ugly.  3 million people in the Atlanta area face the possible loss of their drinking water if some agreement is not reached with Florida and Alabama about who gets how much of  the water by July of 2012.  U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson has ruled that Metropolitan Atlanta doesn’t have the right to continue withdrawing drinking water from the lake.  If you would like more detail on the history of Buford Dam and the lake, check out this link to Wikipedia. 

The state of Georgia is appealing Judge Magnuson’s ruling, and the legislature has just passed a conservation law to cut down on the consumption of water.  The idea in the conservation measure is to show Alabama and Florida that Georgia is willing to do something to ease the problem.  That’s the extent of what the Georgia legislature and Governor Sonny Perdue are doing to deal with this problem.  Will it be enough?  As we used to say in TV news when we ended a story like this, “Time will tell.” Well…it will.

Sidebar

 

Sen. Richard B. Russell, (D) Georgia, 1897-1971

I covered the dedication of Buford dam in 1957 for WSB Radio in Atlanta, interviewing the late and very powerful and grumpy U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell, who wasn’t very nice to me.  I shouldn’t have taken it personally because I later learned that it wasn’t just me. He didn’t like any reporters. He said they were the only people he had to talk to.  The late WSB Radio General Manager Elmo Ellis, a broadcast legend who was the station’s program manager when I was there,  told me that Russell had confessed that to him.  Russell never got married, by the way.    

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