Category: Water Riots of 2008

Hope Now Turns To Water Wars; Judges Sympathetic To Georgia’s Plight

Conventional wisdom on the decades long tri-state water wars has been that Georgia would not fare well in the court system, and needed to negotiate a settlement with neighbors Alabama and Florida.  Today, during arguments in front of a three judge panel, Georgia seemed to find a sympathetic ear.  From the Associated Press via the Gwinnett Daily Post:

Judge Stanley Marcus seemed partly sympathetic to the argument, later saying he believed Magnuson (the original trial Judge) failed to weigh the difficulties his order would case. If Magnuson’s deadline were overturned, it would ease the political pressure on Georgia to cut a deal.

Judge R. Lanier Anderson challenged (Alabama’s attorney) Lembke, noting that the original legislation authorizing the dam contemplated the project would assure Atlanta of a supply of water. Anderson said early documents from the Army Corps contemplated that there may be a need to release more water from the dam into the Chattahoochee River to accommodate anticipated growth in Atlanta.

“The legislation is absolutely clear,” he said. Read more

Happy Birthday To A Bearded Ideologue

That’s right, today is December 25th, and that now means it’s Jason Pye’s birthday.

As you wind down your Christmas celebrations, please take a moment and wish our resident Libertarian and Peach Pundit Assistant Editor a very happy birthday.

Though I’ve been trying to start the rumor that he would be turning 45 today, he claims it’s his 30th. Regardless, he’s been celebrating for a week, and I hope being snowed in gives him one more day of Pyepalooza.

Happy Birthday Jason!

Water Wars update: Georgia only appeals to a higher court on days ending in “y”

Yet again…to arms!

Georgia has asked a federal appeals panel to overturn a judge’s ruling threatening to drastically restrict the water supply to greater Atlanta unless an agreement is reached by 2012 in a long-running dispute with Alabama and Florida.

In the appeal announced Thursday, Georgia argues that U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson overreached last year by issuing an order that could seriously curtail drinking water for Atlanta residents. The state said the judge misinterpreted laws governing who can take water from Lake Lanier.

Magnuson’s “order … will be devastating to three million residents who have no meaningful alternative source of water,” lawyers for Georgia said in court documents.

Attorneys for Gwinnett County, the suburban Atlanta county of about 800,000, also filed a separate appeal with the federal appeals panel. The county, which relies solely on Lake Lanier for its water supply, said Magnuson’s order amounted to a “death penalty for subsistence by existing households and businesses, as well as future economic growth within Gwinnett.”

A “death penalty,” eh? Nice touch. More here and here.

A novel explanation for why Sonny Perdue is “helping out” Charlie Crist

As Tyler noted a few days ago, Senator Saxby Chambliss and Governor Sonny Perdue will host a March 15 fund-raiser at the Georgian Club for feckless Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (pictured) in the latter’s doomed run for the U.S. Senate.

I had assumed that it was because all three are each others kind of Republican: big on conservative talk but in love with liberal spending. Deep from inside enemy territory, though, we have a suggestion that it may be to lull our water foes into submission.

It’s a useful political favor when it comes to the three-state water war that has pitted Georgia, Florida and Alabama against one another for rights to water flowing from Lake Lanier.


Perdue isn’t expected to be at the Cobb County event on Monday, but he added his name to the invitation – a cue to his supporters to turn out with their checkbooks. But with Crist facing stiff opposition from tea party favorite Marco Rubio in Florida, he could be grateful for the help, said University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

“Crist, because he is vulnerable, may be more willing to talk and negotiate,” Bullock said. “And Perdue is … offering to help (Crist) with his career crisis and is hoping Crist may be more amenable to helping Georgia.”

Ending the Water Wars.

Last night I attended a meeting of the 1071 Coalition, a group interested in improving the management of Lake Lanier. Many of these folks live and own businesses on Lanier so they have a vested interest is seeing Lanier managed differently than it has been. The 1071 Coalition is conducting a study to determine the economic impact of low lake levels. Public input is requested, especially from those who live near the lake or do business related to the lake. Go to their website for information.

The featured speaker last night Harold Reheis, the former Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Reheis provided an overview, from his perspective, of Georgia’s response to Judge Magnuson’s ruling that the Army Corps of Engineers does not have the authority to use Lake Lanier to supply Atlanta’s water needs.

Governor Perdue has crafted a “Four Prong Approach” in response to the ruling. Prong 1 is to appeal the decision (which will be filed very soon), and 2 is to work with Georgia’s Congressional delegation to try to get Congressional approval for using Lanier’s water. The third prong is to get the three Governors back to the negotiating table and the fourth prong is to develop contingency plans in case the other three prongs are unsuccessful. Reheis is not optimistic that Congress will act mainly because there are a number of other lakes around the nation where the Corps is releasing water for various localities even though that was not the original intent of the lake. Many Congressmen may be unwilling to expose their own constituents to what Atlanta is now exposed to.

Read more

But what about the endangered mussels?

Who cares what these people want.

Scarred by the drought, and fearful of a permanent reduction in water levels, homeowners, boaters and marina operators on lakes Lanier and Allatoona are pushing Washington to raise the reservoirs.

For Lanier, the goal is 2 more feet of water year-round. For Allatoona, anywhere from 2 to 7 feet of additional wintertime water is the target.

Surely an endangered snail or mussel or something else is more important than saving the Southeast from further drought.

RE: Army Corps Declares Victory After Filling Lanier; Opens Floodgates To Celebrate

Apparently, Sen Lee Hawkins sees no humor in this story.

From his press release:

Sen. Lee Hawkins Denounces Corps For Release of Lanier Water
(Gainesville)—State Sen. Lee Hawkins today blasted the Army Corps of Engineers as “shortsighted” and for their plan to drain as much as 18 inches from Lake Lanier.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has mismanaged this lake for years. We are all concerned about downstream flooding, but we all know that winter releases of water have often left us with a lake unable to recover during normal spring and summer months.”

“This is another ridiculous decision by the Army Corps,” he added. “The Corps is shortsighted for releasing Lake Lanier water at such at time as this.”

In the State Senate, Hawkins was a strong voice for Lake Lanier water level preservation. He sponsored legislation that would have made it possible to re-evaluate “full pool” levels and retain the lake’s water level to 1073.”

“The Corps should have studied raising the level of water in Lake Lanier. We simply need more water for more people.”

“We are obviously missing some accountability,” Hawkins said.

“I have made it clear that I will work harder than anyone in Congress to preserve Lake Lanier and to keep these water releases in check,” Hawkins added. “We cannot afford to squander water in the hope that rainfalls will make up the difference. It is important for this district that we have a congressman who knows this issue.”

To arms! To arms! To arms!

The latest reports are in from the front of the Water Wars and things don’t look good. We lost again. And Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson is getting pissy that we keep fighting.

More from the AJC:

He said an appeal “will only delay and further complicate the resolution of the important claims at issue.”

Gil Rogers, a staff attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said Georgia needs to get the message.

“If the signal the judge sent in July wasn’t clear enough, it’s now become that much more clear,” Rogers said. “He’s setting the framework for the parties to finally resolve this 20-year-old dispute.”

In July, Magnuson ruled it is illegal for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to draw water from Lake Lanier to meet the needs of metro Atlanta’s 3.5 million residents. Magnuson stayed the case for three years to give Georgia, Alabama and Florida time to work out a water-sharing plan. The judge said metro Atlanta should not increase its current level of withdrawals from the lake during this time frame.

Magnuson gravely stated that metro Atlanta will have to find most of its water elsewhere if an agreement cannot be reached.

“The court stayed the matter for three years, to allow the parties and the political system to attempt to reach a solution to this inherently political problem,” Maguson wrote Monday. Magnuson said he “fully anticipates” the parties will resolve their differences before the deadline.

But Magnuson also noted that “keeping with the gamesmanship evidenced throughout this litigation,” the Georgia parties never abandon their legal claims.

The Georgia parties, which include the state, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the city of Atlanta, are seeking an appeal to the 11th Circuit.

Water Wars Weekend In Review

While the rest of us were trying to work in the last few cookouts of summer, there was quite a bit of news in the ongoing battle for metro Atlanta to retain the luxury of indoor plumbing.

Thomas Wheatley over at Creative Loafing brings us two articles on dueling approaches from within the Senate Republican Caucus. Senator Jeff Chapman believes we need to aggressively pursue conservation, as the most cost effective solution as well as a gesture of good faith to other interested parties.

Meanwhile, Senator Chip Pearson believes there’s no time to stop leaks and drips. We need to dig here, and dig now, as illustrated in this article from last week.

Over at the AJC, Jim Galloway brings us news that Gov Perdue wants to open some currently sealed records to shine some light on who’s really doing what to solve this problem. Political posturing or genuine gesture? You’ll have to decide.

But my favorite news of this saga is that the misplaced survey marker, you know, the one that has allowed Tennessee to steal our water for over a century, has gone missing. The “Camak Stone”, a survey monument mis-placed to denote the boundary between Georgia and Tennessee, has disappeared.

The AJC interviewed some dude who believe it was stolen due to the oh-so-entertaining rise of historic relic trading (which I have on good authority has already surpassed human trafficking and is closing in on illegal drug trafficking). I think they’re over thinking it. Surely some patriotic Georgian has merely done the right thing, and placed the marker where it belongs: At the bottom of the Tennessee River.