Posts Tagged ‘Corps of Engineers’

Lowest Chattahoochee River Flow on Record this Summer

August 6, 2009

LOW RIVER FLOW ENDANGERS DOWNSTREAM ECOLOGY, SAYS BILLY TURNER 

It’s hard to believe, but, even though we are not in a drought and have had a lot of rainfall,  the flow of the Chattahoochee River downstream from the Atlanta area has been the lowest on record this summer.   That’s what former Columbus Water Works Director, and defender of downstream Chattahoochee River interests Billy Turner tells me. 

Billy Turner, former Columbus Water Works Director, Columbus, GA

Billy Turner, former Columbus Water Works Director, Columbus, GA

It has happened because the Corps of Engineers is holding back water at Lake Lanier and West Point in order to store more water in anticipation of a future drought, he says.

But, since the Corps is under court order to keep flows strong enough to satisfy Florida’s need for fresh water to flow into oyster beds in Apalachicola,  how can the Corps hold the water back?

“Because,” says Turner, “the Flint River is supplying enough flow for Appalachicola right now.”

What does this low flow mean for downstream communities?

“The main problem with the Corps reducing flows is that a certain amount of flowing water is needed to assimilate the waste-water discharges at each of these cities and plants,” he says, adding, “These flows were designated in wastewater discharge permits by the respective states and if the appropriate levels of flow are not provided the potential for poor water quality in the streams exist which could impact the ecology. The option to having the appropriate flow is higher levels of wastewater treatment which is very expensive.”

In a meeting in Columbus yesterday, Govenor Perdue, who is trying to unify all sections of the state in face of a federal court ruling that, in three years,  Atlanta can’t take any more water from Lake Lanier,  assured Turner and other business and political leaders that the state is not just concerned with Atlanta’s needs.  According to a Ledger-Enquirer story,  neither Represntative Debbie Buckner nor Turner were convinced.  “I don’t think we came together today,” Turner said. “There has got to be more discussion. What is the deal Georgia has in mind?” 

He had told me erlier, “Georgia will continue to fight for Atlanta’s water needs requardless of the concerns of Columbus and our neighbors. It would be a great step if Georgia would provided a balanced support for all Georgians which could keep us on the same side in the Court actions. To date State government has only shown concern for Atlanta.” 

Turner is a prime leader in a suit filed against the Corps of Engineers demanding that an adequate downstream flow be maintained.

 

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Big Problem with Solving Water Shortages: Splintering

June 27, 2008

  The Metro Atlanta area is facing another long hot summer as drought conditions continue. Lake Lanier did regain some of the water it lost to last summer’s drought, but it wasn’t enough to bring the lake back to full. It is 14.4 feet below full and falling as the sun evaporates more than two-tenths of an inch every day.

 

 

Lake Lanier, October, 2007

Lake Lanier, October, 2007

 

 

  Billy Turner, of the Columbus Water Works, indicated that the drought probably won’t be as severe as it was last summer. The highest drought level is a 4.. The only part of the state that is still at that level is in the north Metro Atlanta area. The rest of the area is down to a 3. Most of the state, including Columbus, which had reached the #3 level, is at a 2, and the southeastern part of Georgia is at 0.

 

 

Billy Tuner, Columbus Water Works President

Billy Turner, Columbus Water Works President

 

  Efforts in Metro Atlanta are still underway to conserve water, with things like washing cars at home being banned, and limited lawn watering in effect, but can such measures do the trick?

 

  The Corps of Engineers has been allowed to hold back a little more water at Lake Lanier and some other reservoirs in Georgia, but not much. The Corps is mandated to keep level of river flow that protects downstream, was held back because the Corps must maintain the downstream flow. Folks downstream, especially at Apalachicola, Florida, like it that way. Metro Atlanta people aren’t all that happy about that.

 

  This drought has really brought home the mistaken past philosophy of dealing with this problem, which was to ignore recommendations made by planners long ago.

 

  Rick Perlstein writes in Campaign for America’s Future, “Atlanta boomed in the wake of the monster capital investments made in anticipation of the 1996 Olympics, the magazine [Atlanta magazine] reports; ‘In 1990, the Atlanta area was projected to draw 800,000 new residents over the next twenty years; in the ten years following the Olympics, the total population increased by almost 1.4 million…. But in that same ten-year period, the reservoirs that supply our most vital resource grew not a bit.’

  Perlstein says that a 1969 study by the Atlanta Region Metropolitan Planning Commission said infrastructure changes would be needed to avoid critical water shortages when Atlanta’s population reached between three and five million. In the 1980s, planners proposed networks of reservoirs throughout North Georgia. The project was deemed too costly. Instead, “What did the Atlanta metropolitan area do instead? Issue building permits – 48, 262 in 1996; 68, 240 in 2006.”

Turner told me that the big problem in the past has been splintering. Each county was looking after its own self interest. That doesn’t work. When making comprehensive water plans the state as a whole has to be considered.  The way one county use water affects neighboring counties.

Well, the planners are at it again. This time they are saying that, even with the emergency conditions caused by the draught, Atlanta will have enough water for the city to grow to 8 million people by 2030. Turner doubts that. So do I.

As I have said before, they put atlanta in the wrong place. Columbus has a greater water supply than Atlanta. Turner has stated in the past that Coumbus could easily handle a population of 6 million people. Metro Atlanta already has almost 5 million and look at the problem it is facing. It will have enough enough water for 8 million. I don’t think so, unless it can tap into another river system like it is exploring on the Georrgia-Tennessee line. Some are claiming that the border line is incorrect and that the Tombigbe River at that point is actually in Georgia.  Pursuing this would, no doubt add Tennessee to the Water War now being fought between Georgia, Alabama and Florida.