Three-ring circus

Published 7:42 pm Tuesday, December 15, 2009

After meeting in secret and with a table full of mainly metro-Atlanta executives and interests, the governor has issued draft recommendations from a water contingency task force.

The task force recommended a mix of actions known as the “3Cs”—conserve, capture and control. These include the following:

conserve—aggressive conservation measures and reducing loss from leaks

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capture—expanding existing reservoirs and building new ones

control—restrictions on outdoor water use and requirements for plumbing upgrades.

Boy, those heralded recommendations have a familiar ring to them.

Oh yeah, they are the same recommendations that downstream users of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers have been urging metro-Atlanta water users to do for almost two decades. Among them: Fix Atlanta’s antiquated sewer system; institute growth management and building practices that protect and conserve water resources that developers and local officials in the metro-Atlanta area have resisted; and on and on.

Now these recommendations come only after Atlanta’s hand was forced by U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson’s July ruling that said Atlanta’s continued siphoning of water from Lake Lanier was illegal and would have to stop in three years unless Congress intervenes.

In fact, the arrogance of the powerful in metro Atlanta have for the longest time said that water should be distributed based on economic impact. And the brunt of the burden was to be borne by those downstream.

They still don’t get it.

As task force co-chair Tim Lowe of Lowe Engineers said Monday in the governor’s news release: “This issue will affect Georgia for decades to come. … In fact, our consultant’s analysis shows that metro Atlanta alone would take a $26 billion hit to its economy every year if we do nothing, and that would ripple throughout Georgia. We cannot allow that to happen.”

Well hello, where have you been?

It’s time for the General Assembly to put forth some very logical, fair and meaningful water conservation and restrictions that would truly serve all of Georgia’s interests—not just Atlanta’s.

Our hope is that the governors of Alabama and Florida also relayed that message to Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.