GreenRoom: January 2008

• Georgia’s access to Lake Lanier for drinking water has been challenged by Alabama and Florida; nearly a quarter of the federal reservoir that has been permitted to Georgia is at stake. A 2003 decision ruled in favor of shifting the lake’s use from its original purpose – hydroelectric production – but Alabama and Florida say that kind of permit should have required congressional approval. The 2003 decision could be invalidated, but Georgia would likely get some of the water, just as some would still be used to flow to Florida to support Apalachicola wildlife.

Meanwhile, sheepish state officials are fast-tracking plans to build a ring of new reservoirs in north Georgia – planning for six is under way, according to the Athens-Banner Herald.

Sam Olens, Cobb County Commission chair and chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission, recently told the Chattanooga Free Times Press, “I am supportive of a win-win wherein Atlanta has access to excess flows from the Tennessee River in exchange for support for rail from Atlanta to Chattanooga.”

Interbasin exchange issues not-withstanding, the Tennessee River could be a significant alternative water supply should an agreement over Lake Lanier and other tri-state issues fail; some 9 billion gallons of water flow past Chattanooga on a daily basis. Olens noted that Atlanta needs Chattanooga’s airport overflow capacity, and $7 million has already been spent to study linking the two cities by rail. Georgia state senators Jeff Mullis and Doug Stoner recently visited Shanghai to look at China’s high-speed magnetic levitation train.

• Recent actions taken by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Marshlands Pro-tection Committee do not seem very protective. In late November the board considered amending its mission statement to emphasize respect for private-property rights as “one of its core values.”

In early December, it approved the controversial construction of two “megadocks” – one measuring 954 feet on Isle of Hope, the other measuring 1,394 feet in McIntosh County. “We’re subsidizing these people as a state,” environmental Attorney Don Stack complained to the Savannah Morning News. “Not every piece of marshfront property is deepwater [access].” Board member Leslie Mattingly conceded that “lengths of docks is a big issue,” and the committee reportedly agreed to come up with better length guidelines in the coming year, the newspaper reported.

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