Monday, November 19, 2007

For the physics challenged

I raised an eyebrow when Gov. Sonny Perdue said Atlanta's growth had nothing to do with Atlanta's water shortages, though he later recanted that to an extent at the recent pray-for-rain service.

Apparently Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson said much the same thing to Creative Loafing last week.

Seriously, folks, there are few truths in this world. But until someone rocks my world by throwing out that whole "matter can neither be created nor destroyed" concept, this will remain one of them: more use + same or less supply = eventual shortage.

Politicians might lie to you, but math never will.

Virtual hat-tip on this goes to griftdrift.

UPDATE: From Bert Brantley, in the governor's press office, who gets all numbery on me:
I don't think anyone is saying that consumption is not part of the issue, that's why we are doing all the things we are doing to encourage conservation. But, when you look at the numbers, there is no way you can blame "out of control" Atlanta growth for draining Lake Lanier.

Every day, the Metro Atlanta region consumes a total of 540 cfs (cubic feet per second), which includes water from all the different sources in the metro area. Just over half of that (275 cfs), is directly withdrawn from the Chattahoochee River, which has Lake Lanier as its headwaters. In order to achieve the 5,000 cfs daily goal at the Woodruff Dam (at Lake Seminole), the Corps of Engineers must release enough water at the Buford Dam (at Lake Lanier) to account for the uses downstream and the
needs of the Florida mussels. The releases vary every day, depending on a lot of different factors (mainly inflows into the basin, i.e. rain).

There are times when the releases are as low as 1000 cfs, though that is pretty rare in these days of little rain. The high mark this year was last week, when on the 14th and 15th they released 4066 cfs and 4061 cfs respectively. The usual amounts are in the 3000 cfs to 3500 range cfs when we are not getting rain anywhere in the basin.

So, if Atlanta did not exist and did not consume one drop of water, the amount released from Lanier would only be a fraction less than what is needed for other downstream needs. So, that's why when the Governor is asked if Atlanta's growth has drained Lake Lanier, he answers that other factors are clearly more to blame than the region's consumption.

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