Editor’s Note: This is the third of three stories this week that look at water issues that affect metro Atlanta. Click to read the first story and the second story.
The debate over how to meet the water needs of metro Atlanta comes down to two different principles – whether the region should use less water, or provide greater supply through additional reservoirs.
Even that reduction doesn’t go far enough. For one, there’s not a consensus on how much water the region will need in the future. In addition, there’s little agreement on the data and science used in the debate.
If this sounds familiar, it is – transportation and the proposed 1 percent sales tax that was on the ballot in 2012 to pay for roads and transit. One difference with the water debate is that the public probably won’t be asked to decide for or against whatever solution is reached by water planners over the next two years.
Editor’s Note: This is the second of three stories this week that will look at water issues that affect metro Atlanta.
Metro Atlanta probably celebrated too swiftly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year the region may continue to draw drinking water from Lake Lanier.
Though the ruling was rightly portrayed, by Georgians, as a major victory, the battle is far from over. The U.S. Senate toyed with the court’s ruling last month before it adopted omnibus water legislation. Water proposals abound in Georgia – where lakes are full six years after a governor led prayers for rain.
All of this results in water supply remaining one of the region’s major policy questions. Not to be overlooked are neighboring communities, and creatures, who rely on the same sources of water.
Editor’s Note: This is the first of three stories this week that will look at water issues affecting metro Atlanta.
Maybe it was just the comments about metro Atlanta’s water usage by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. that triggered the outcry.
Or it could have been a story in The New York Times, which ran a few days earlier, on the potential demise of the seafood industry in Apalachicola Bay. One factor cited was a shortage of fresh water entering the bay from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee Flint river system.
Taken separately or collectively, the comments by Kennedy and the Times piece alarmed some business and government leaders involved in the management of metro Atlanta’s water resources. The ruckus reminds that despite full lakes, the region and Georgia are in a pivotal moment concerning long-term water issues.
By Guest Columnist LAUREN JOY, an associate attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center
In 2011, many Atlantans were relieved by the court determination that water supply was an authorized purpose of Lake Lanier. Despite this “win” for Atlanta in the Tri-State Water Wars, we must continue to treat water supply as an ongoing and important issue for Atlanta and the state.
The “Water Wars” are far from over, and the best step we can take to secure and sustain our state’s water supplies is to improve our statewide water planning efforts.