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The Flint as Focal Point

January 31, 2011

The media mill has been pretty quiet on the water front after the flurry of coverage of last week’s rulemaking on interbasin transfers (IBTs), but a long Sunday story in the Albany Herald profiling the Flint Riverkeeper organization provides plenty of reminders of what all this policy-wonk fuss is about. In the course of detailing the history and development of that young Riverkeeper organization, the story inevitably hits on the two major policy issues of the day in the state: the aforementioned matter of IBT policy, and Governor Deal’s proposal to fund water supply development in otherwise tight-belted times. And that’s an appropriate direction for the Herald’s piece to go in: after all, the Flint is a river already suffering from existing IBTs, and it’s one that’s been in the crosshairs of dam-building plans more than once in the last few decades. Like most all of Georgia’s rivers at this point in time, it’s a place where the policy issues under discussion are also very, very real matters on the ground.

Other news of note is that wire reports say oral arguments have been scheduled for early March in the appeal of the Magnuson ruling regarding Lake Lanier – this just a few days after Gov. Deal was quoted as saying (in a break from the tone of the Perdue administration), “I don’t think we can look and expect that we’re going to reverse Judge Magnuson’s decision, even though we are continuing that appeal.”

And Maria Saporta has posted Part 2 of her reservoir report, noting rightly that “the best reservoirs are existing reservoirs.” The closer we get to the Magnuson deadline in 2012, the more important it becomes to look at raising the pool in Lanier (in addition to aggressively pursuing efficiency and water-line leak reduction), rather than at building new lakes that would be years away from reality anyway, and would take more water out of river systems flowing to downstream Georgians, Alabamans and Floridans. Saporta’s reservoir rap can’t really be called a comprehensive treatment, but it does leave the reader with an instructive – if, for some of us, uneasy – sense that the Metro-area momentum for new lakes is quite strong.

-Ben Emanuel

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