Tennessee lawmaker suggests sending troops to Georgia border

“I think we need to have our militia down there,” quipped Tennessee House Majority Leader Gary Odom, D-Nashville. [Source: 2/8/2008 Chattanooga Times Free Press article “War of words over water”]

Tennessee state Rep. Gary Odom is speaking to the resolution introduced by Georgia state Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) that establishes the Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission in order to resolve a nearly 200 year old dispute between Georgia and Tennessee concerning the northern border of Georgia along the 35th parallel.

Senate Resolution 822 and its House companion, H.R.1206, claims “the northern border of the State of Georgia and the southern border of the states of North Carolina and Tennessee lies at the 35th parallel, north of the southernmost bank of the Tennessee River and that a flawed survey conducted in 1818 that was never accepted by the State of Georgia erroneously marks the 35th parallel south of its actual location.”

According to news reports, if Georgia’s border moved north by a mile, the state would then gain access to a portion of the Tennessee River and possibly bring some relief to Atlanta’s water crisis.

Tennessee state legislator Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga) told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, “Most people in the (Tennessee) Legislature understand this is a publicity stunt, but my constituents don’t think that. They don’t think this is an appropriate action for the Georgia Legislature to take even if it is in jest,” the Tennessee state Senator said. [Source: 2/8/2008 AJC article “BORDER DISPUTE: Water war between the states on the line”]

However, Sen. Shafer seemed to suggest that his resolution wasn’t a publicity stunt. In remarks to the Georgia Senate, Shafer said, “The northern border of Georgia is and always has been the 35th parallel. It is never too late to right a wrong.”

S.R.822 was co-sponsored by all 56 Georgia Senators.


  1. Icarus says:

    It’s now clear that we’re going to need some diplomacy on this issue.

    For a peaceful and diplomatic solution to be found, we must first understand what the real issue underlying this problem is: ice.

    What we’re fighting over is access to the reserves of the Tennessee River to ensure a proper supply of ice cubes. Both sides need to be reminded that they need each other, Georgia with its control of the Coca Cola, Tennessee with its control of the Jack Daniels.

    Unfortunately, most of the elder statesmen in government are long past their years of drinking Jack N Coke. If only we had a youthful statesman with close ties to the governor who was known to have an affinity for Jack and Coke, we could reach a peaceful settlement. If only….

  2. ramblinwreck says:

    Icarus, using your analysis I hate to side with Tennessee on this, especially since I work 8 miles from the state line and have been involved in this for 3 years. But as you point out, no right-thinking even semi-sophisticated intelligent adult over college age would dare insult Jack Daniels by mixing it with Coca-Cola. We need water for Jack and a splash, or Jack and rocks, not Jack and Coke. The more water we have the more Tennessee product we’ll possibly consume. Tennessee should look at this as a Gillette razor scenario, give us the water and make us by the Jack Daniels. Marketing 101.

  3. Doug Deal says:

    What an appropriate response, Tennessee. Not an over-reaction in the slightest.

    Of course establishing a commission to talk about something is tantamount to an invasion. Way to not make the South look like a bunch of fools.

  4. StevePerkins says:

    This story is funny to joke about, but it does suggest interesting times ahead as world resources (i.e. oil, fresh water) get more scarce. I don’t really see a threat of violence between states within the same country… but if there were a dispute between Venezuela and Columbia, Iran and China, Pakistan and India, etc… that could turn into war pretty quick.

  5. Still Looking says:

    Georgia has been asking the Corp of Engineers for a more rational release policy for Lake Lanier. To get this we need Fish and Wildlife to revise their views on endangered species – sturgeon and mussels. In a sense we’re asking the feds to act like adults, and recognize the water shortage to humans. Now here comes the Georgia General Assembly trying to change the state border. This doesn’t convince anyone that Georgia is acting prudently and rational. Alabama and Florida are already hostile to our water problems, now we’ve pissed off another neighbor. How much support do you think we are going to get from Congress and the executive branch? There better be one hell of an iron-clad legal case to go down this route. I think we are going up S**t Creek without a paddle.

  6. nast says:

    Wait, Tennessee is the one that looks foolish with this business?

    Well, they better look out. Perhaps Sonny can just lead a vigil on the steps of the capitol and the Good Lord can make the border move. Or we just dig a deep hole on our side of the border so we can start drinking their milkshake.

  7. DoubleDawg3 says:

    Here’s a VERY fair way to settle this issue:

    If UGA beats UT in football this season, we get the southern half of Chattanooga, including this portion of the Tennessee River.

    If UT beats UGA this season, we give Tennessee Dade County, since the Interstate already does some weird in state/ out of state think up there anyway. (Maybe we’d have to up the bet to like the northern half of Dalton, or something?)

    It’s fair b/c last year, UT drubbed us…but this year, we’ve probably got the better team. Should be a good game.

    As for Steve’s post earlier – you’re right on the point. This is kind of important, simply due to the fact that natural resources, like water, are evidently a limited supply. One of my former law school classmates is now a successful venture capitalist in California – one of his group’s major investments starting up right now? Seeking to run fresh water pipelines from Canada to Vegas & California (which involves a lot of gov’t intervention, however) – kind of like the Alaskan oil line.

  8. Mike Hauncho says:

    Tennessee will fight this tooth and nail. If they hold on to that river Atlanta will dry up and die. That means all the business that Atlanta has received over the years will flock to where there is water and a thriving community, Nashville and Knoxville. That river is 15 times larger than the Chattahochee. It will give us the water we need and allow us to release more water out of Lanier in order to fuel the power plants and water the mussels. We should win this one, bu it will not be easy. We got screwed on the Tri-state deal so hear is their chance to make up for it.

  9. Icarus says:

    I think the politics behind the High Speed Rail line between ATL and Chattanooga just got a bit interesting.

  10. StevePerkins says:

    Georgia has been asking the Corp of Engineers for a more rational release policy for Lake Lanier. To get this we need Fish and Wildlife to revise their views on endangered species – sturgeon and mussels. In a sense we’re asking the feds to act like adults, and recognize the water shortage to humans. Now here comes the Georgia General Assembly trying to change the state border. This doesn’t convince anyone that Georgia is acting prudently and rational.

    The Georgia government can’t even find the political will to tell people not to use their swimming pools in the middle of a Level 4 drought (I just got an email from Steve Davis applauding Gov. Perdue’s decree that swimming pools constitute a “necessary activity”). As far as credibility goes, we don’t have a leg to stand on with the Feds in demanding a larger proportion of the water that belongs to Tennessee, Alabama, or Florida. Demonizing those states is a nice way to get some cheap praise from the self-centered morons who make up a majority of Georgia’s electorate, but it makes us look like tools at the national level.

  11. Still Looking says:

    Right you are Steve. Metro Atlanta was going to run out of water in about 30 years based on existing consumption and gowth trends. Howver, the historic drought sped up the timetable. We have a crisis now!

    Sonny is correct, we can’t conserve our way out of a drought, but he has consistently sent the wrong signals.

  12. juliobarrios says:

    It appears Roswell is going to do what many here, including myself, have advocated: triple the upper tier water rate price.

    Some here have said that pricing will have no effect on the water demand (even injected some populist rhetoric into the argument by claiming it was a scheme by rich people to get more water). If Roswell does implement this new water pricing schedule it will be interesting to see if it has an impact on demand. I don’t think it will have much of an impact on the first bill, but do believe after a couple of mega water bills it will reduce demand. If it doesn’t then triple the uppper rates again.


  13. jeffjohnvol says:

    All Tennessee would have to do is build a levy by plugging up the bridge under Shellmound road and problem solved, no water to even get.


    The Tennessee River is low just like everywhere else. Lakes in the mountains of TN are being drained to keep the river high enough for barge traffic. Why should Georgia take the water when they can’t manage their own water pigs.

  14. ramblinwreck says:

    jeffjohnvol, actually 35 degrees north is out in the middle of the lake on the other side of shellmound road. If you go to Google Earth you can see where 35 deg North really is because Google has the border where it’s supposed to be. Trust me, I am a regular visitor to this place.

  15. jeffgator says:

    Someone tipped Drudge on this. So much for keeping family secrets.

    “CIVIL WAR? Georgia wants to annex parts of Tennessee; gain access to water supply… “

  16. jeffjohnvol says:

    Ah, I was just figuring a mile above what google maps was showing. Oh well.

    The supreme court will shut it down.

    Georgia needs to put in a measure of water control. Los Angeles has grown for 7 years without increasing its water input by limiting usage.

  17. jeffjohnvol says:

    Besides, even if they get to that point in the lake, it is controlled by TVA. If Sonny thinks he can drain it, he’s mistaken. The federal government controls that water and says what comes and goes. You can’t even put a dock on that river without TVA’s permission.

    And even if the state line encompasses the entire section of river, Georgia doesn’t own the shoreline. Neither does Tennessee. TVA owns to a certain elevation. Don’t look at the map from the top, look at it from the side. TVA controls a certain elevation and Georgia wouldn’t even be able to put a pipe there without approval.

  18. Bill Simon says:

    “Sonny is correct, we can’t conserve our way out of a drought, but he has consistently sent the wrong signals.”

    What about praying for an end to the drought? Or, was that other event just for political show, Sonny?

  19. John Konop says:

    Fining the richest residents on water may help tax revenues but how will it help the problem?The wealthy can afford the bill and it is a small group anyways.

    I would suggest tax incentives for a material reduction of water via behavior and new products. This would create jobs and revenue via sales of new products. It would reduce investment needed to fix the problem via tax payers. Also it promotes personal responsibility.

  20. jeffjohnvol says:

    Donkey Kong, with that argument, the Creek and Cherokee tribes should go down and take over north Georgia and Atlanta.

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