Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal recently told members of his state’s water-supply task force that he plans to resolve the water-war dispute with Alabama before going on to deal with Florida.
Is this some sort of a “divide and conquer” tactic?
However, it also may be the simple recognition that setting an acceptable flow of water for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basin may be the easiest of Georgia’s problems to deal with.
There is no court order hanging over Georgia’s use of the river basin as it is with the amount of water it can draw from Lake Lanier. There is no pressure from a metro area like Atlanta, the economic engine that all but runs the state. And, of course, there is no Florida to muddy the waters with all sorts of environmental concerns.
Georgia has already taken significant steps toward creating its own water-use plan — something on which Alabama still has much work to do — and establishing conservation measures.
Moreover, the Georgia Senate has approved a study to see if it might be possible to divert north Georgia creeks that flow into the Tennessee River into abandoned rock quarries that could become reservoirs for north Atlanta. That would take pressure off Lake Lanier and, significantly, off the Georgia headwaters of the Coosa and Tallapoosa.
Such a plan would make it much easier for Georgia to offer concessions to Alabama in order to cut a deal.
However, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley must make it clear in these negotiations that settling the issues concerning the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa basin does not resolve the problem with flow from Lake Lanier into the Chattahoochee.
It will be good for Alabama to reach a settlement with Georgia on issues that pertain to those two states and only those two states. However, Bentley must remember that Florida has been our ally in this matter from the start. Alabama must not abandon friends to cut a deal.