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Tri-State Guvs & Hugs: Part I

December 15, 2009

Today’s midday meeting is on between the Governors of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.  And Georgians have a lot of advice and questions:

A Savannah Morning News house editorial implores Governor Perdue to offer more than a “group hug” to his counterparts Bob Riley and Charlie Crist when the three meet today to discuss the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) water crisis.  They say Perdue needs to “put up or shut up,” convince the AL and FL governors “that Georgia is for the long haul on aggressive conservation measures,” and “explain what Georgia is giving up so Alabama and Florida can get more.”

Georgia Power CEO Mike Garrett, Perdue’s tri-state water war “quarterback,” also wants the governors to reach an agreement ASAP since any tri-state compact would need to travel through three different state legislatures.  In his most committed language, Garrett thinks a tri-state agreement is “the only answer” to solving the region’s water woes.  He further intimates that such an agreement could make it much easier for Georgia “to be able to use water out of Lake Lanier” through Congressional reauthorization.

Finally, Georgia state representative Lynn Smith recently posed an interesting question about conservation that the governors will also have to address at some point: Where will water conservation take place, in Metro Atlanta or all over the state?  The larger question about where conservation will take place remains uncharted.  At a minimum, the three governors should require water efficiency and conservation measures in any community dependent on the Chattahoochee River, Lake Lanier, or any other federal reservoir in the basin.

FYI – Smith’s Newnan statements are accompanied by fuzzy and not so logical cost comparisons between fixing leaks (a water conservation measure) and desalination (the costly process of creating drinking water).  For some water conservation facts and examples of metropolitan areas that have conserved their way out of water scarcity, take a listen to Mary Ann Dickinson’s Georgia Water Coalition media briefing (“National Water Expert Provides Case for Metro Atlanta to Pursue Water Conservation and Efficiency to Meet Water Supply Needs”).  Georgia has a great opportunity to lead the Southeast in water conservation and efficiency and join the growing list of success stories.

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