By: State Sen. Greg Goggans
ATLANTA (August 27, 2009) – Approximately 26 billion gallons of water are used every day in the United States. According to the United States Geological Survey, the average American uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water daily. People depend on water for healthy lifestyles; and Atlantians depend on Lake Lanier as their primary water source. Currently, Lake Lanier provides the majority of Metro Atlanta’s water needs. Earlier this month a federal judge ruled that Georgians have no right to use the lake for water consumption. According to U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson, drinking water was not an authorized purpose for the lake when it was created 50 years ago and should not be now. The Court has granted the State of Georgia three years to find alternative sources. This poses a huge problem for Metro Atlanta as well as the rest of Georgia.
Water is going to be an extremely important issue for Georgia as it will frame the future of our beloved state. There are going to be many different opinions and each one should be thoroughly analyzed as a possible solution to this looming crisis. We must consider every option to ensure that all Georgians have enough water and also maintain our natural resources. Three of my fellow Senate colleagues have presented their views on how to solve this issue. Senator Judson Hill (R-Marietta) suggests we return to discussions of moving the Tennessee/Georgia boarder, developing a water sharing plan with Tennessee and advancing every initiative better utilize water from the Chattahoochee River. He notes that the courts don’t recognize the water we replenish to Lake Lanier and that water could be recycled through the Chattahoochee River rather than returning it to a reservoir the court has said we can’t use. Senator Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville) has presented an aggressive plan for building more reservoirs while working toward a solution with our neighboring states. His plan includes increasing our water capacity by implementing the provisions of the Water Conservation and Drought Relief Act (SB 342) so that communities can apply for state funding to enlarge existing reservoirs and obtain permits to construct new ones; increase funding immediately for reservoir development; and petition to raise the lake level two feet and claim that water as Georgia’s. Senator Jeff Chapman (R-Brunswick) suggests comprehensive water planning where it will have the greatest impact, show considerable results within three years, and be achieved with the least cost. Chapman notes that Atlanta’s leak detection and abatement program has reduced water loss by 1 percent each year, enough to supply 244,000 Atlanta residents with water. This program, if instituted throughout the 16-county region, could potentially save anywhere from 10 to 20 percent in total water usage. He stresses encouraging household consumption conservation by retrofitting all outdated appliances and fixtures with water efficient models, which could provide an additional 35 percent savings. Finally, Chapman suggests surveying existing reservoirs within the Apalachicola Chattahoochee Flint River (ACF) Basin to determine if water resources could be substantially increased and maximizing the potential of existing dams when considering the massive costs associated with new dam construction.
All of theses suggestions have merit, but they have not mentioned or addressed the great big elephant in the middle of the room that concerns most of my fellow South Georgians. The question is Will Atlanta attempt to transfer ground water from South Georgia to satisfy its growing demands? South Georgia is blessed to be situated above an extremely valuable natural resource, The Floridan Aquifer. It is one of the most productive aquifers in the world and represents one of the main sources of ground water for South Georgia. The aquifer system underlies an area of about 100,000 square miles in southern Alabama, southern Georgia, southern South Carolina, and Florida.
I would like to believe that the piping of water from South Georgia to Atlanta will never be proposed as an option and most definitely never attempted. If proposed or attempted it would surely create a most unfortunate climate of “US” versus “THEM”. So it behooves every Georgian to do their part in finding a solution and implementing a strategy to once and for all address the age old question of Georgia and its water supply.
I would like to hear your opinion on the issue of water in Georgia. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please remember to contact me in my office on the issues that are affecting you and your area. I am here to serve you and it is an honor for me to work on your behalf. As always, I’d like to thank members of the Senate staff, who contribute regularly to my column.
Sen. Greg Goggans represents the 7th Senate District, which includes Atkinson, Bacon, Berrien, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Lanier, Pierce and Ware counties and a portion of Cook County.
For Immediate Release:
August 27, 2009
For Information Contact:
Raegan Weber, Director
Matt Colvin, Communications Associate