Dear Tennessee: We’re Coming After What’s Rightfully Ours! Again!!

I saw this bill (HR 4) in the House pre-files before the session began, and even printed it out and laid it upon the desk of a co-worker here in Georgia’s Secret Outpost Chattanooga.  We’re trying to take back our water…again…like we’ve tried for the past 200+ years.  Anyway, Saporta Report has a write up about it, but I figured I would give my $.02 worth on the bill and the over-arching issue.

For those just joining us, the federal statutory border between Georgia and Tennessee is supposed to lay along the 35th parallel.  Due to whatever reason, drunkenness, Indian warriors scaring the bejeezus out of surveyors, horrible math, aliens, the border is actually short by about a mile south of the 35th.  If it were land, it probably would not matter all that much, but from what I understand, the *intent* of the statutory border is supposed to allow Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia to share the Tennessee River.  Supposedly, both states are supposed to recognize the border.  My understanding is that Georgia never recognized the incorrect border.

Some of my co-workers complain that Atlanta is driving the push to get the border changed to “stick a straw in the Tennessee River”.  I recall talking to a geography professor a few years ago at Dalton State about this.  He said that the Tennessee River has a much, much larger output/flow/whatever than the Chattahoochee River does, so even if Georgia pipes the Tennessee River down through Chattanooga Valley, Chattanooga and the other cities and communities down stream of the river would probably be unaffected.  Granted, I don’t have case studies, numbers, or anything like that, but just go with me here.

HR 4 would expand just a small section of the Georgia-Tennessee border in Dade County (run north by about a mile, run east by about a mile and a half, and run back south) to capture part of the Tennessee River.  It may be a little easier for Tennessee’s General Assembly and Governor to swallow rather than dealing having to cede more of “their” territory to Georgia.  Tennessee would be able to keep the land originally part of Georgia in exchange of allowing Georgia to have access to the Tennessee River.  Win-win, right?

If we end up getting the rights to tap the Tennessee, how are we going to use it?  Is Dade going to be the sole benefactor, or will it piped through northwest Georgia, through Atlanta, and end up in south Georgia?  Something that a friend of mine pointed out: where are they going to put this pipeline?  It would be a fairly large pipeline that would have to run through parts of Dade and Walker County.  Of that path, I would suspect that it would come down through Dade County and cross Lookout Mountain and run through Walker County…maybe in the Chattanooga Valley area (my neck of the woods).  That’s my speculation, and I suspect that it would be a tough sell for those of us that live in that part of the state.

Again, I haven’t seen any plans, and I may be putting the cart before the horse, but it certainly is something to think about if this piece of legislation winds up on Governor Nathan Deal’s desk (which is likely, I’m sure) and is something that the state of Tennessee is willing to cede (my optimism fades at that point) to our fair state and then has to get approved by Congress no doubt (there’s a Charlie Foxtrot).

In the mean time, perhaps the northwest Georgia delegation should start gauging the temperature of the citizens of Dade and Walker Counties (and counties south, no doubt) on how they feel about a pipe running from the Tennessee through their back yards.

While we wait, we’ll start building up our invasion force.


  1. Nonchalant says:

    No, no, no. We should argue the terms of the cession of land in the Compact of 1802 have not been lived up to by the Federal government, thus the contract is null and void and we reclaim ownership of Alabama and Mississippi. That gets us Tennessee *and* Mississippi River water, as well as ends Alabama’s mucking around with the ‘hooch.

    Now, since the original colony charter gave us borders on the Pacific, time to figure out how to…

      • Nonchalant says:

        Think about it though–at least four more NFL teams for the state. Let Arthur Blank move the Falcons to Los Angeles–he’d still be in Georgia.

        It’s not called the Empire State of the South for nothing….

  2. Scott65 says:

    Aint never gonna happen…just have a chat with the TN legislators that represent the area in question and you wont get a no…you’ll get a HELL NO!

  3. Baker says:

    Paging Ron Daneils, Peach Pundit’s legal counsel:

    It may sound cliche but isn’t possession really a huge part of ownership? I’m not talking some Occupy squatter in DeKalb County, I mean that if you are recognized as owning something for 200 years, it’s pretty much yours right? The other party be damned at that stage.

        • Baker says:

          Okay, maybe, but 200 years? I don’t care what area of law, I’d love to get my dry, parched mitts on the glorious, magical waters of the Tennessee River, but it ain’t gonna happen. Seems like a waste of money and legal resources.

            • Engineer says:

              I don’t know about that, you would basically be pumping water up Lookout Mountain (probably into several large water towers/tanks) and then letting gravity take care of the rest. While still pretty pricey (costs of placing the pipes, pumping, & maintenance), the costs are vastly outweighed by the demand for water in the metro Atlanta area and it is more cost effective and/or less political as other options (ie: hauling in water, damming more rivers, & pumping it up from South Georgia). So long as developers keep building up Atlanta, there will be increased demand for water resources.

          • Napoleon says:

            Okay Baker, because you know. New York also never thought in a million years that Ellis Island would be turned over to New Jersey after 100 years of it being NY.

  4. Ramblinwreck says:

    I have some experience with this issue as it was one of the first calls I got as the newly elected County Commission Chairman here in Dade County. A well known engineering company called to tell me the state line was in the wrong place and I told them I already knew that, so what? The “so what” is that if the line was moved back to it’s legally authorized location (the 35th parallel hasn’t moved) then Georgia would have an inexhaustible supply of water that would not be missed by anyone. They estimated you could withdraw 250 million gallons per day and it would be less than 1% of the flow of the river. I spent the next four years trying to get the attention of everyone from our local legislators through the Governor and few people were interested. (In hindsight maybe I should have called it “go fish” version 2.0)

    The bottom line is that Georgia would have to go to federal court to fight this and nobody in Georgia leadership with the clout to authorize that will do it. I think Tennessee would blink. I’ve suggested swapping them the 88.5 square miles of Georgia land currently occupied by Tennessee (including many of Chattanooga’s elected officials) for the .5 square miles in the middle of Nickajack lake. All we want in Dade County is a penny per gallon. 🙂

    • Nathan says:

      Always good hearing from my friend in the Republic of Dade. 🙂

      I think there was drought in the midst of your tenure as commission chairman, right? I could be mistaken though. I guess they thought it was a “last resort”. It is a fun piece of history to bring up from time to time while the General Assembly is in session.

      • Ramblinwreck says:

        We prefer “The Independent State of Dade.”

        It’s still something that should be addressed. Every time Tennessee has found an error in the line over the last 200 years they pitch a hissy fit to correct it (ask Mississippi about the line in Memphis) but they refuse to discuss any move the other way. I hope the legislature presses the issue.

  5. johnl says:

    Sure, TN will just fork over their water. And land. Not happening.

    If GA is serious about this, then they have to file suit, and the Supreme Court has exclusive and original jurisdiction over disputes between states. It’s not that hard. Anything else is just window dressing.

  6. Dave Bearse says:

    The small knob that would be the piece of land a mile north-mile and a half wide east added to the northwest corner of the state means we’ll have to change every state route sign in the state. I’ll cost millions.

    And wouldn’t this land be part of the independent state of Dade anyway?

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