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Georgia Water Studies in the News

August 28, 2010

Early this week, two Chattahoochee River basin stories broke on August 22 that included a single nugget each of interesting material worthy of comparison.

According to the first, published in the Gainesville Times, the 1071 Coalition is running out of operating cash.  The 1071 Coalition formed during our most recent historic drought and after Lake Lanier’s water level plummeted to its all time low of 1050 feet above sea level in December 2007.  The 1071 Coalition is dedicated to maintaining Lake Lanier’s level at 1071 feet above sea level and convincing the US Army Corps of Engineers not to increase Buford Dam releases for downstream purposes.  To make their case, they have invested $200,000 in private consultant’s fees to finance an economic study that will ideally prove that a higher water level in Lake Lanier equates with robust economic health for communities and businesses around the lake.  Just to remind readers, Lake Lanier was originally authorized for hydropower, flood control, and navigation for the general public – not for municipal water supply or to subsidize private property values.

In the second story, published in this Birmingham News blog, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby blasted the Georgia Congressional delegation for squeezing language into the Water Resources Development Act that would authorize the Corps to complete a municipal and industrial water supply study for the state of Georgia.  Shelby was concerned that the potential study – and I say potential because the bill has not passed nor has any money be appropriated – is Georgia-centric.  This is certainly the case, and at first blush, the study could produce data that Georgia could use in its favor in the ongoing tri-state water war.  Hence Shelby’s charge that the study would be “divisive.”

So what do these two stories have to do with each other?

Here is what leaves me scratching my head.  At the very end of the Shelby story, a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee spokesperson – where the WRDA bill originated – speculated that the Corps’ Georgia water supply study would cost about $100,000.  If that is the case, pray tell how the Corps can complete a water supply, environmental, and economic study for the entire state of Georgia for $100,000, while the 1071 Coalition will spend $200,000 to complete an economic study for a single reservoir?

-Chris Manganiello

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