The short answer is that we have grown as a state and the water supply has not. Thus, we find ourselves embroiled in mini-disputes: state against state, county against county, rural vs. urban and, our old nemesis, north Georgia vs. south Georgia, none of it the least bit productive.
That's taken from Israel's Dec. 20 column on the chamber Web site.
But I thought Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said this in the Dec. 14 Marietta Daily Journal:
"The Corps has truly mismanaged the watershed," he said.
The lieutenant governor denies that rapid growth has anything to do with the drought.
"The reason we're here is not rapid growth in Atlanta. It's not Atlanta taking all the water. It truly is because of a drought. The drinking water for a third of the citizens in our state comes from Lake Lanier, and it's critical that we put drinking water ahead of feeding mussels and endangered species down steam," he said.
He is working on a plan for communities in the event the drought continues, a plan that involves irrigation ponds and intergovernmental connectivity. Improving and expanding the state's reservoirs is another need.
"We get about 50 inches of rainfall annually, which equates to about 50 trillion gallons. Total usage in Georgia for all water, meaning municipal, industrial and agricultural, is about 1.2 trillion. That's why we're going to have a statewide water management plan, and that's why we're putting together a reservoir program. If we manage the resources, and we are able to build the reservoirs to capture that rainfall, we can prepare for the future very easily, but we can't do it if we've got the Corps draining those reservoirs, OK? That's the problem we find ourselves in today."
And the speaker of the house reportedly said something similar to Creative Loafing in November.
And here's what the governor's press office had to say to me last month:
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.
Still plenty of water here in Macon. Everyone feel free to move here.
UPDATE: From Joe Fleming at the chamber:
I see no disagreement.
George Israel and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce have spoken often of the need for three key things to happen on water:
1) adoption this session of a meaningful statewide water management plan that balances the needs of our people and econony with the protection of our natural resources;
2) accountability for the Army Corps of Engineers and others (including U.S. Senators from Alabama) in interpreting their responsibilities and obligations under federal inter-state commerce laws and under the Endangered Specious Act; and
3) additional storage capacity/reservoirs wholly within the borders of Georgia, which would be free from the control of the Corps.
The extended drought north Georgia has suffered this year makes clear that these three priorities must be addressed soon, for short-term relief and long-term planning.
Joe also points to this link, in which Israel says:
"While Georgia wilts, and the state’s business and industry is being required to cut water usage, water is leaving Georgia at an alarming rate," Israel said, "protecting mussels in Florida, but endangering jobs and the economy in Georgia. It makes no sense."
So I guess it is the mussels who are to blame. We should bomb them.