Posts Tagged ‘Lake Lanier’

A Blogger’s Report on Governor Deal Dealing with Columbus Rotarians

July 20, 2011

It’s the duty of the blogger to report stuff you won’t get in the mainstream media, so I’ll try to pick out a few things that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said today at the Rotary Club of Columbus that you probably won’t read in the paper or see on TV. I don’t claim they are important, just something nobody else will probably tell you about.

Take this picture, for instance.  Nevermind.  I already took it.  Hey, even retired newsmen get to be corny sometimes. Anyway…now, where was I?  Oh, you won’t get  this shot anywhere else of Jim Cawthorne of Camera1 getting his picture of Governor Deal. Usually, I use Jim’s Rotary stuff, but I thought, hey, sometimes the photographer needs to be seen, even if it is from the back.

Here’s something the governor said you probably won’t get anywhere else.  He said he was walking down the corridors of the  state capitol heading for an important meeting, when some middle school kids spotted him and wanted to get their picture taken with him.  An aide told him not to stop because he had to make the really important meeting, so they tried to just walk around the kids. However, he said, the kids decided to surround him. He explained that he couldn’t stop because of the important meeting. One little girl said, “But we voted for you.”

“You did?”

“Yes, it was just a straw poll, but you won.”

“She got her picture.”

Now why did he tell that story?  (Analysis warning!) Was it because he wanted to reenforce what Muscogee County Rep. Richard Smith said in his introduction?  Richard- I can call him Richard because we are old friends, not close, but old – said this about Deal, “He is a good man.”  Remember, you heard it here first!

You’ll probably read in the paper or hear on TV what he said about the water wars.  But, just in case you don’t,  he was happy that three federal judges threw out a lower court ruling that  Atlanta had to stop slurping up million and millions of gallons of water from Lake Lanier so the oysters at Apalachicola can stay happy, and Alabama can keep its nuclear power plant  buzzing.  But will you hear what  he said about  Columbus’ white  water theme park?  You really shouldn’t, because what he said didn’t amount to a hill of beans.  He said it will help the city economically. Who hasn’t  said that? Well, come to think of it, seems like I read in the Ledger-Enquirer’s Sound Off thing a comment by some spoil-sport who said there is no guarantee it will make money, only that it will  cost a lot..

The governor said the state has some good schools, and some really bad ones, and we need more really good ones.  Can’t argue with that.  He pointed out that the state actually increased the education budget, but, certainly, one could reason, not enough since, answering a question from the audience, he said more teachers will have to be furloughed, though not by the  state, because the state doesn’t furlough teachers. He gives the local schools systems credit for that.

You’ll probably  get some of that in the mainstream media.  But will you learn that Columbus Rotary’s new president, Rev. Jimmy Elder, who is also pastor of the First Baptist Church, said that Governor Deal “is a courageous man” because he took question from the audience. He said he would never do that after a sermon. You have to go to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to witness that event.  Yes, it does happen often there. He didn’t say those last  two sentences. I did.

That’s all I can think of now about things you probably won’t hear or read in the mainstream media, though you might.  Just remember, you read it here.

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

April 19, 2010

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.    

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.

 

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

July 26, 2009

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.

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.