Saturday, October 20, 2007


I was just over on the internet presence of The Weather Channel (TWC) and saw a great piece, Canary in the Coal Mine done by Tim Liotta, Managing Editor of TWC's Forecast Earth who was documenting the effects of the terrible drought they are experiencing over in Atlanta and many other parts of the southeast. The article was well done and should be a wake up call for all those who have heretofore taken our natural resources for granted.

As a former resident of Georgia and one who has frequently paddled The Hooch and played in the formerly plenteous waters of Lakes Sidney Lanier and Allatoona, I commiserate with my many Friends and Family yet in Georgia. Allatoona is near bone-dry and Lake Lanier is nearing a historic low with some predicting that with a dry winter the old bed of the Chattahoochee River may even be revealed. Aesthetics aside, there is real concern over the even near-term prospects of the sufficiency of their drinking water supply (90 days?) with all outdoor watering, lengthy showers, etc all banned. We might want to check to see what effect this may have on Atlanta population surges nine months hence – share a shower with a Friend!

This already critical situation is being further exacerbated with the mandated U. S. Army Corps of Engingineer releases of the dwindling, remaining water of Lake Lanier in order to maintain populations of endangered freshwater Florida mussell and fish populations. Environment and politics aside, the current mandates obviously favor our bivalve Friends much to the chagrin of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and most of the residents of Georgia.

That said, one wonders if this isn't a Darwinian exercise as the ever increasing population of the Atlanta metropolitan area (1970's 1,763,626 to the present 5,314,283+ folks) hasn't been matched with an equally responsible effort to increase water resources. The expansion of water treatment facilities is inadequate as the primary source for those waters remain the Chattahoochee River/Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. Bottom line: Atlanta has outgrown it's water supply.

Despite that dose of reality I thought to offer some comfort to those in the Southeast by admitting that I am here in North Texas and yes, we went through the same thing for a little over two years prior to the spring of 2007. All local lakes (artificial contrivances of the State of Texas) were close to bone dry and water rationing was real and set to go to yet another level. Entrepreneurial sorts were buying up water rights in Oklahoma and in East Texas anticipating a cash bonanza as the drought worsened.

Then, as Mother Nature would have it, all hell broke loose with major rains and flooding along with those predictable Texas tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that punctuate the excesses that seem to characterize the great Republic of Texas. Nearby Lake Lavon that was over 30 feet down is now near normal pool as are most of the other lakes in North Texas.

Accept the assurances of a still Southeastern US wannabe; the drought will break and North Georgia will once again return to the comfortable and substantial environment it once was. I hope that relief will be without the attendant severe storms and flooding that plagued Texas. Please pay attention to our ever growing urban populations and our seemingly ever decreasing natural resources and remember this lesson.

I think most of us here in Texas have a far greater appreciation for those resources we once took for granted. That failing, a visit and fine by the “Water Police” from Dallas and many of the surrounding municipalities will put the issue in proper perspective. Fines for illegal water use in Fulton and Douglas County, Georgia are now going as high as $1,000.00. That’s enough to make one join the Friends of the Earth! Anyone for Fish and Mussells Normandie?


Ned Buxton

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