Multi-state agency the only answer to ongoing water wars

A long, intense drought left Lake Lanier at historic low water levels in 2008.

A long, intense drought left Lake Lanier at historic low water levels in 2008.

It’s smart to heed good advice, particularly when it comes from someone who can punish you if you don’t. Ralph Lancaster, appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court as special master in a decades-long fight over water rights between Florida and Georgia, qualifies as such a person.

“I urge you, again, to try to settle this matter,” Lancaster told attorneys for both states earlier this month. “… whatever the result is, whatever the court does with this case after I make my report, we’re talking a lot of money and a result that I suggest neither one of you may be very happy with. So, again, and again, and again, I’m going to urge you to discuss settlement seriously.”

That was less a threat than an observation. Court-imposed solutions tend to have all the subtlety and flexibility of a sledgehammer. And in trying to manage a resource as complex as the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola rivers, subtlety and flexibility are priorities. That’s why Gov. Nathan Deal has been meeting with fellow governors in Alabama and Florida to try to solve this mess out of court, in less adversarial settings. Should Deal succeed, it would be a crowning achievement.

The good news is that Deal and his colleagues now have a successful model to emulate. Since 2008, a group of stakeholders from Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been meeting without official sanction to try to accomplish what politicians, lawyers and bureaucrats have not been able to accomplish. They include representatives from all sections of the 500-mile-long watershed, from oystermen in Apalachicola Bay to environmental groups in north Georgia. They have talked, shared viewpoints and data and tried to reach consensus.

Early on, after it became apparent that they needed data and science to fuel their work, they raised $1.7 million in private capital to provide that science. The result, after seven years of work, is a 130-page “sustainable water management plan” for the whole basin, in which they address contentious issues and reach consensus on most of them.

Some of it’s good news for Atlanta. The report documents that the metro region is not the villain in the story, but in fact has taken significant steps to reduce its impact on downstream neighbors. It found that all of north Georgia, including metro Atlanta, consumes less than half as much water from the basin as do farmers in south central Georgia.

The report also makes a variety of policy suggestions, including raising the water levels at Lake Lanier by two feet, thus adding 25.4 billion gallons of storage. However, it casts significant doubt on Deal’s plan to build new reservoirs, noting that “stakeholders do not agree that new surface-water reservoirs or aquifer storage … are environmentally sustainable.”

Its most important recommendation is that Alabama, Florida and Georgia agree to a “transboundary institution” that allows the three states to work out their differences just as the stakeholders did, by drawing upon science, and by collaborating and cooperating rather than by filing suit.

“Competing interests are understandable, but the absence of a mechanism to work through differences must not continue,” they conclude.

That too is very wise advice that should be heeded.

Reader Comments 0

435 comments
SmartAleck
SmartAleck

With 434 comments, I am sure I am shouting down a black hole.....But....


Why have we not included Tennessee into the discussion, since they have stolen a part of Georgia that could supply access to meet our needs for 100 years!  


Seems NOBODY wants to settle this (but Georgia) so they can use water uncertainty against us in Economic Development and attracting business.  This has little to do with water, and more to do with competitive advantage.  

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

Can we just make it Clinton / Bush 2016 or Bush / Clinton 2016 and be done with the BS. The money is behind them. Ain't like there's anything we can do about it in this democracy of ours.

JamVet
JamVet

“Climate change poses a massive threat to the world.”

Henry Paulson, who served as Secretary of the Treasury in George W. Bush’s administration from 2006 to 2009, believes that in regards to climate change “it’s going to be an even bigger problem if we wait.”

In addition to his tenure in the Treasury during the 2008 financial crisis, Paulson is also a former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs and is currently the chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, “which conducts projects and research on economics and the environment in the United States and China.”

He is currently co-chairman (with Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, and Tom Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management) of the Risky Business Project, which focuses on quantifying and publicizing the economic risks from the impacts of a changing climate.

TBS
TBS

@JamVet


Chalk him up as a misguided RINO

LOL

elgrunir
elgrunir

Gotta go back to work...


In the meantime, y'all can have a Kamchak appetizer:



For Kamchak, el futbol is grindin’

His Jose has a contract that’s bindin’

When he thinks of his coach

He smokes it down to the roach

Hey, Kam! Know what? “Just remindin’”


straker
straker

gotalife


The "dynasty" exists only in your mind.


Hillary has as much right to run as anyone else.


Jeb has as much right to run as anyone else.


Neither of them is guaranteed to win the White House.


And, Hillary is NOT Bill and Jeb is NOT his father or brother.

JamVet
JamVet

Hiya, el!

Good to see you around!

I'll get in touch later and we can catch up, OK?


elgrunir
elgrunir

@JamVet 


10-4 on that...


Have some appts, maybe after 1830 PDT

TBS
TBS

@gotalife


Mitt will not be entering the race for POTUS

gotalife
gotalife

@TBS @gotalife  gop backup plan. They will run the wealthy moderate to compete against Hillary.

TBS
TBS

@gotalife @TBS


Not going to happen but you can say it a million times and click your heels over and over if you are want to do so. 

TBS
TBS

@gotalife @TBS


Not going to happen regardless of Jeb or no Jeb.

Not sure where you are getting your info but the source may as well be some left of center breitbart. 

But again you can say it all day everyday if you like. 

elgrunir
elgrunir

@TBS @gotalife 



MITT, AGAIN???

Will you run for POTUS, O Mitt?

Not well with the people you sit

Your cheapness was noted

By the majority who voted

Don’t even think on it, you twit


gotalife
gotalife

OMG, Obama threw a secret party.


Partyghazi.


cnn is all over it.


elgrunir
elgrunir

@gotalife 


DOES HE OR DOESN'T HE?



“Already,” says he, “Got a life”

But what does she say, his wife?

“Come on, use your nog

And get the hell off the blog

Or I have to break out with the knife”

elgrunir
elgrunir

YO!  NICK REGNAD!

He escaped in time by a Nick

Was able to just dodge the brick

Backwards or forwards?

I do not know which towards

This motion is making me sick

gotalife
gotalife

Money is the root of all American politics since the start of America.


Focus on money only like the American people.


Pass Obamatrade.

elgrunir
elgrunir

FedUp’s had enough of Gee-Dub

The damage of which he would scrub

It takes not great memory

Or a B.A. from Emory

That the best he could do was cut shrub

gotalife
gotalife

Treasury froze the debt at 18 trillion. Works for me just stop addition.


jeb is about to announce.


One thing about the bush's, they do focus on money and if they fail just bail them out.


Works for the American people.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

A limerick in time, like a stitch, will save nine, hopefully..

fedup52
fedup52

I have to admit our media does a great job on keeping Americans divided for another gilded age and the rich keep getting richer.

++++

Actually morons among us do it to ourselves.  GW or somebody back over 2 hundred years ago said something like if we run the country by party that will ruin us.  

elgrunir
elgrunir

PHILO FARNSWORTH


KAMCHAK


*Please report to the front desk.

elgrunir
elgrunir

@fedup52


Just pay the $2.99 surcharge and check the box on the form.

elgrunir
elgrunir

Yes, the lim’ricks returned

Long after the worm had done turned

What does -that- mean?

All I can glean

It’s some stupid saying I learned

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

An imaginary line in the wrong place should not be allowed to deny Georgia access

to the Tennessee River.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@barkingfrog imaginary lines have led to all sorts of nonsense over the centuries . . . access to rivers, and the waters that flow in them, included.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

With a bullet train water could be hauled from Chattanooga quickly.

gotalife
gotalife

Lets get real and realistic.


American politics is all about money so let focus on making money like the Obamatrade.


Heck, Jay will not even opine on Obamatrade.

gotalife
gotalife

American politics is all about money not Americans so lets focus on making money only.


Lets not change that. Forget inequality crap they will never address. Campaign bs.


The dems should stop lying about "fighting for you" bs.


They will fight for donations so donate to be heard.


fedup52
fedup52

Read this yesterday:  The mayor of Houston was responsible for reducing homelessness in her city by 46%.  Mainly she took care of homeless vets.  Go Dem mayor.