Archive for the 'Water' Category

Water, water, everywhere —- you know the rest.

If you live anywhere around Atlanta, you might have noticed that it’s been raining a lot more than it has for the last three or four years.  Officially, the drought is over.  Lake Lanier (Atlanta’s primary water source) is now less than six feet below “full”.  Six feet below full may not sound so great, but compared to 20 feet below full just last winter, it’s a miracle.  Anyway, for years there has been great gnashing of teeth about water; outdoor watering restrictions; legal wars with Alabama and Florida about who’s got rights to the water in the Chattahoochee River; even an attempt to re-draw the boundary line between us and Tennessee so we could tap into the Tennessee River (God only knows how we’d get that water to Atlanta, but…….); mandates from the state requiring municipalities to reduce water use by 10%; etc., etc., etc.  Now, rainfall for the year is slightly above normal (about an inch) and the lake is on it’s way to being almost full.  So most folks say the drought is over.  No more worries.  Back to life as it was.

But now hold on a minute!  Drought or no drought, this problem was inevitable! And if we think it’s over, forget it.  It’ll be back.  And, as the Men’s Warehouse guy says, “And I guarantee it”.  When I moved to Atlanta 30 years ago, people said the limit on the city’s growth was water supply, and it would run out in 30 years.  So the reason has been known for a long  long time.  It’s the very small watershed of the Chattahoochee.  Atlanta running out of water shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone.  The surprise should be that the lake is rapidly getting back to normal with only normal rainfall.

The New Orleans Katrina disaster was a problem waiting to happen.  It was Russian roulette with a revolver having 100 empty chambers.  The city’s number was going to be up someday, the only question being when.  It could have been any year in the last 200, and it might be this year again.  But when and if it happens again is purely chance.  Atlanta’s running out of water is purely chance too, except that the chances are 100%.

I went to a home builders meeting about six months ago where there was an official from the state that was going to tell us about the new state water plan.  I thought, “boy do we need a plan” so I went thinking I’d hear all about how the climatologists and cartographers and biologists and geologists had figured out how we’d be able to have our cake (water) and eat it too (growth).  After at least 45 minutes she wrapped it up and took questions.  I raised my hand and said, “So what you have is a plan to come up with a plan, is that right?”  In not so many words, her answer was “yes”.  What the heck have these people been doing for the last 30 years? You know a train wreck is coming and no body does any thing about it.  Nothing.  Nada.  Nix.  This is failed leadership at every level of government, and it’s pathetic.

But guess what?  It’s raining.  There’s water in the lake.  And all the politicos are going to go back to sleep on the issue until disaster raises it’s ugly little head again — probably in about two years.  Do you have any idea how long it would take to create a major new reservoir?  10 years?  20 years?  Maybe forever.  And get this.  The City of Atlanta, with all of it’s water woes, recently sued a south Metro county (Clayton, I think) to STOP them from creating a reservoir because it would mean they’d buy less water from the City.  This is insanity.

I think I better stop now.