Georgia Senate Approves Study of Using Tennessee River Basin As Water Source

March 23, 2011 11:10 am

by Nathan · 24 comments

The Georgia Senate has unanimously approved a study into whether or not we can dig a tunnel to take back the Tennessee River use the Tennessee River basin as a water source by harnessing the creeks that ultimately flow into the Tennessee River, storing the water in abandoned rock quarries, and then piping from the rock quarries along pipes built along railroad lines.

Plan B: We declare war on Tennessee and take our water back.  We need to act quick though since they’re still in a tizzy about UTK firing men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl.

(Picture to the right is the Tennessee River (duh) and it’s surrounding river basin–via Wikipedia)

David Staples March 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I’m not familiar with anything but the river flowing into Lake Chatuge. I know it flows North into Chatuge and the dam is in NC. The river flowing out of Chatuge then continues North and West to various other lakes and ends up in the Tennessee River. Is part of this proposal to prevent that water from getting to Chatuge in the first place? If so, you’d be killing the economy in Hiawassee and Towns County which exist primarily around that lake.

Should be interesting to watch this one…

Engineer March 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

David, the resolution doesn’t mention Lake Chatuge or anything around it. The resolution does however refer to accessing the water flowing to the Tennessee River southwest of Chattanooga (basically at the very northwest tip of Georgia). Specifically mentioned in the resolution are Dade, Walker, and Catoosa Counties. It seems they are looking into the feasibility of tapping the small creeks and streams that flow through there to the Tennessee River (Lookout Creek and Chattanooga Creek to name a couple).

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/displaybill.aspx?BillType=SR&billNum=228

When you add into the argument that modern technology shows that the Georgia/Tennessee boundary marker is about 1 mile south of where it should be (the 35th parallel) and then you add in that this argument was also recently brought up in 2008, this argument isn’t out of the question. If the border was placed where it should, Georgia would then have a shore of the Tennessee River.

David Staples March 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for the link! I haven’t had a chance to go look it up yet. It’s an interesting proposition, that’s for sure!

Engineer March 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Yeah, this topic reminds me of a discussion from my environmental geology course from back in college about Atlanta inter-basin transfers. Needless to say, this reeks of yet another effort by Atlanta to suck up all water resources within reach (and leave those of us downstream with the sewage).

David Staples March 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I at least put my water right back into the ground. I’m on a well and septic. :-)

B Balz March 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm

No offense, David , but those in the business of land planning offer septic as a causation to water waste. By attaching double the volume of water usage to
septic, since no water is returned to the system, major rural developers, who depend on septic for waste, are not friendly to a water strapped region.

You have made it clear that you are a rural user, so no harm, no foul. Those 500 home subdivisions on septic are problematic. If anyone out there is in the development bidniz, take note.

saltycracker March 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Water & Sewer Companies, particularly in the ATL metro, benefit developers and themselves as expressed in high costs to users. A new subdivision putting in their own sewer lines suggests either it isn’t enough for the total infrastructure impact or W&S operational costs are out of sorts and getting worse.

saltycracker March 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm

P.S. Not sure the developers and those that favor high density living didn’t write land use plans favoring sewer systems stretching into rural areas. Farm & development runoff absent adequate buffers/catch basins & overflowing sewers are the big contributors to nasty creeks & lakes around me.

B Balz March 27, 2011 at 8:15 am

Gov’t monopolies are price insensitive as there is no profit motive, right? In other words, high costs to users are not a benefit for a gov’t monopoly.

Instead, price is used to curb demand and suppress the the need to to expand facilities. Water and sewer facilities are a great capital cost. That cost, in government, can only come about as an uncertain to originate, yet certainly unpopular bond.

I really comes down to diminishing returns which runs contrary to Atlanta’s popular “there are no mountains, rivers, or seas’ to restrain our growth’ mentality. I think we have hit diminishing returns for new, exurban residential growth that does not come with it’s own sewerage systems.

The region has not adequately protected it’s creeks and lakes in the good times. We cannot expect to undo fifty to a hundred years of unbridled growth in bad times. Yet, slowly, a little bit at a time, there are success stories.

GWINCO is reclaiming small ponds and re-establishing watersheds. As new municipalities seek much desired park space, watershed areas will be reclaimed. Cleveland/Philly are great examples of this, although their water is so poor, you cannot play in it.

Point is, sprawl may be over for awhile. I think Atlanta will continue to develop, grow, but you won’t see new 500 home subdivisions in Walton using septic as end users won’t be able to afford their water bills.

What part of the general Metro is home to you saltycracker?

David Staples March 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

“No offense, David , but those in the business of land planning offer septic as a causation to water waste. By attaching double the volume of water usage to
septic, since no water is returned to the system, major rural developers, who depend on septic for waste, are not friendly to a water strapped region.”

Hrmm… interesting… I’ll have to do some research on septic at some point. As for returning water to the system (the double volume part), you probably missed the part where I said I’m also on a well. I don’t pull water from the county’s water system, so the water that goes from the septic tank to the drain lines should seep back down into the ground, getting filtered along the way, right?

B Balz March 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Like I said, one rural user, no harm, no foul.

View from Brookhaven March 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Sounds like a declaration of war to me.

I'm Not A Crook March 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm

35 or fight!

Andre March 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Can Gov. Deal go to the UN and ask that a no-fly zone be instituted over the state of Tennessee until they return the land that rightfully belongs to the Empire State of the South.

Howard Roark March 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm

How much is 130 million gallons of water per day.

Lakes Hartwell, Thurmond and Russell have a normal flow of 3,600 cubic feet of water per second. One cubic foot of water contains 7.8 gallons of water. Normal flow of each of these lakes is 28,080 gallons of water per second. Divide 28,080 into 130,000,000 (the flow of the creeks in question) and you conclude that any one of these lakes release 130,000,000 gallons of water in 4,630 seconds. In just over 8o minutes any one of these lakes has released 130,000,000 gallons of water.

I just wanted to put into perspective how much water is 130 million gallons of water.

What to conserve water. Ask the Corps of Engineers to reduce the normal flow of Corp lakes to 3,100 CFPF on all lakes in Georgia. They did that on the Savannah river lakes but are bumping the release back up to 3,600.

Also the Corps could raise the full pool level of all lakes in Georgia by 1 foot. That would increase the standing volume of each lake substantially.

B Balz March 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm

http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/publicworks-home/2823-water-reclamation-facilities

The big FULCO reports:

There are five Water Reclamation Facilities (WRF) in Fulton County. These facilities treated an average of 43 million gallons a day (mgd) in 2008.

So….. 130mgd almost trebles FULCO’s treated capacity, that is a lot, isn’t it?

Under all is the land. Under the land is sewerage.

Howard Roark March 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Just trying to point out how much water flows out of a large lake when there is no generation going on (normal flow). The numbers posted above are just Fulton county, not all of the metro area.

Rationallogic March 25, 2011 at 11:10 am

The City of Atlanta, the surrounding municipalities and the state of Georgia have all made commendable efforts in the conservation area and many of the municipalities have been recognized with awards from environmental groups for their plans. The issue is no longer conservation (though we need to be ever mindful of it). Alabama is not negotiating in good faith and never has because it is not about their true concern about having enough water. Alabama sees this as their opportunity to strangle the growth of Atlanta with the logic that they would be the beneficiaries (yeah right, try Charlotte, Dallas and Phoenix). Alabama has refused to allow Georgia/Atlanta to use it’s NET withdrawals (withdrawal less treated water returned to the river) from the Chattahoochee so that it the numbers look far worse. Atlanta returns 80 to 90% of all the water it withdrawals. As B Balz pointed out, the problem has been the suburban areas communities that utilize septic systems but Gwinnett has made big strides in this area with their water reclamation plant.

Georgia is finally doing what should have been done 30/40 years ago by planning reservoirs for the future growth and provisions for drought stricken years. Dallas planned and built 13 reservoirs starting back in the 50’s and now they are seeing the benefits – their growth has far outpaced Atlanta over the past 5o or so years. I have friend that work with companies considering relocating their operations and those companies see the water issue as a significant issue. Many of them have chosen Dallas or Phoenix for their operations centers. They certainly aren’t moving them to Alabama.

North Georgia and Atlanta are upstream from the bottom of most the water basins that cover the state. All but one of the basins drain to another state. Georgia must store some of this water here, even though it is costly to do so, to ensure there is adequate water in the drought stricken years. Alabama knows that this is Georgia building those reservoirs is the end f their ruse so they will protest and sue that we are taking their water even though the rain falls in Georgia. Governor Deal is finally addressing this issue in a serious manner and seems to be putting Georgia/Atlanta back in the game.

B Balz March 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I think this is as clear an analysis as I have heard on why Alabama doesn’t choose to dance with Georgia on this issue. I heard that Alabama was going to be tough on this over a year ago, but never ‘why’ with such logical clarity.

To the ‘deal naysayers’, I told you so plplplplplpl. LOL, seriously, we’ll see what gets vetoed what goes through.

Rationallogic, how do you see Florida’s position in this trilogy?

Rationallogic March 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Florida concern is a little more sincere, imo. Every state leader has an duty to their constituents to look out for their best interests and that what Florida is doing. They do want to protect their muscle farming industry but they also want to see Atlanta continue to grow. The Florida Governors recognize how much the vacationers and vacation homebuyers feed the Florida panhandle economy. I imagine many of those Florida panhandle muscle farmers don’t care for all those tourists from Atlanta but the overall region has benefitted tremendously from Atlanta’s growth. I have never seen actual statistics but I have been told by a couple of people in the Destin real estate industry that around 80% of all vacation homes in the panhandle area are owned by people from the Atlanta metro MSA. As that area continues to grow, and the new Panama City airport adds new direct flights to more airports, I think that percentage will go down. With this being the case, Florida should be supporting Georgia building new reservoirs and capturing water in north Georgia before it crosses into Tennessee because, when piped into the Atlanta area and with most of Atlanta’s water being reclaimed and returned the Chattahoochee, that is more water for Florida, south Georgia and Alabama (but Alabama will, undoubtedly, protest the action). Again, all of this is only in drought stricken years, because, in most years, Georgia and most of the southeast has more than enough rainfall to keep Lanier and other reservoirs at full pool.

The difference with Alabama is (i) they are being insincere about really needing the water, (ii) their governors have been looking out for their constituents but their way of doing so is to cause harm to Georgia in the process. There is an enormous amount of animosity towards Atlanta the state and in the region. Everybody loves to bash Atlanta but it is the economic engine for Georgia and has brought many jobs to Alabama as well. When I used to work with companies analyzing their existing workforce and evaluate the area where the most talented prospective employees resided, I was always shocked to see people that would commute from Chattanooga to 285 to work.

Our past leadership failed Georgia in looking out for our best interests, imo. Perdue was a disaster. I am impressed (and surprised) with both Kasim Reed and Governor Deal’s efforts to get Georgia acting as one again. We need to end the chasm between ‘the two Georgias’. Kasim Reed was bending Obama’s ear on the deepening of the Savannah port because he sees the economic importance of the port to Atlanta’s continued growth. We are in a crisis and I am impressed that many of the leaders have put aside their political posturing to get on the same page to get Georgia back to robust economic growth.

btw, I had a significant typo, in my post above, Dallas has far outpaced Atlanta’s growth for the last 5 years (not 50).

B Balz March 27, 2011 at 8:20 am

Interesting points, I definitely agree that Destin/Ft. Walton is Atlanta’s playground, and even down to Tampa/St. Pete.

I had heard that ‘Bama was going to be the trouble from someone on Perdue’s “Blue Ribbon Task force, this makes sense to me.

Guess we should lay off the ‘Bama slams until all this gets worked out.

Doug Deal March 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm

If we take that extra mile, might we earn an additional seat in the House?

barrycdog March 28, 2011 at 1:47 am

What if the Kamak stone rolled down hill into the Tennessee River? Then we will have to pump out the water to get our stone back.

nwgeorgiawater March 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm

If Atlanta doesn’t find water – there will be no growth in Atlanta, N GA or Chattanooga plus many other markets

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