Impacts, Politics

Lake lessons

Severe Drought Drives Political Debate

While wildfires raged in southern California, a different type of rage was going on here in the east. You see, Lake Lanier in northern Georgia is drying up. As of October 13, it is 13 feet below normal. This would only be a problem for the local homeowners whose docks are high and dry except for the fact that Lanier provides drinking water for the 4 million residents of metro Atlanta. It also is the source of the Chattahoochee, Apalachicola, and Flint rivers which flow from Georgia into both Florida and Alabama, providing for the fishing industry in Florida and cooling capacity for a nuclear power plant in Alabama.

To keep his residents drinking, Georgia governor Sonny Perdue is backing a plan to reduce the flow of water from Lanier as northern Georgia experiences its worst drought in recorded history. In doing so, he is running afoul of his fellow Republican governors in the lower states. Georgia’s argument is that the lake resides and the rivers originate in Georgia, so Georgia can adjust the flow as needed to meet the requirements of the state. The governors of Florida and Alabama say that such a plan will seriously impact local economies and have serious environmental impact and that Georgia should have begun water restrictions considerably earlier.

So, they are taking it to the federal level for resolution with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the Bush administration getting involved.

As the climate warms and weather conditions change and become increasingly less dependable along historical lines, these types of political wranglings and human impacts are going to become considerably more prevalent and considerably more heated.


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