Droughty Business

An article in the LA Times came out Sunday, and this article is really important: it’s about Georgia water!

Our own Marilyn Hall spent some time with reporter Neela Banerjee, author of the article, discussing our drought situation and what we’re trying to do about it.  She’s not cited, but the two of them tossed around thoughts of how the situation in Georgia got where it is today, and what some places are trying to do about it.

Drought is a very touchy subject, and there are as many takes on it as there are people that think about it.  Such is the nature of these topics.  We–Georgia–have spent the last 13 years in and out of drought, so around here, it’s touchy and yet very common subject of conversation.  Some places, like Athens, have pretty stellar water conservation habits: we’re using around 20 gallons per day LESS than the average American.  However, not all cities are so lucky.

Banerjee discussed the Flint River (the river I grew up on), which runs from middle west Georgia all the way down to Lake Seminole, in the southwest corner of the state.  Right now it’s very, very low.  Down there, the primary economic supports are cotton, peanuts, and peaches, all of which require steady irrigation.  It’s hard to irrigate your livelihood if the river is empty.  So, to us south Georgians, water is very important.

The thing is, it’s important everywhere.  The Georgia drought isn’t just in the south. It’s affecting water levels everywhere.  It’s more apparent down south, because of “trickle down:” water used up north sometimes doesn’t make it down south.  As Banerjee reported in the article, some hydrologists are concerned that unwise water use in the northern parts of Georgia is contributing to the drying rivers in the south.  It depends on who you talk to…but to me it makes sense: water flows from north to south (generally) so if the water in the north is removed…the south doesn’t get it.

Anyways, the real issue Banerjee discussed is the shift in the government’s role.  Perdue made some pretty tough watering restrictions while he was in office; I remember there being an uproar even in our fairly rural city, because we couldn’t water our lawns, or wash our cars.  Deal, however, has not imposed those particular regulations.  Depending on who you are and what you believe, your opinions on that will vary from pleased to confused to outraged.

However, as mentioned in the article, Deal has proposed new reservoirs (manmade lakes) for the metro Atlanta area.  This proposal is also controversial.  And not in the works yet. It appears to still be in the brainstorming phase–disclaimer: that is not a comment about how I feel, just my understanding of the situation.  Creating reservoirs is tricky business: it can involve damming rivers to reroute the water.  Of course, there is much opposition to the prospect of damming rivers, which I’m betting is part of why these reservoirs are still in the early stages.

Without meaning to get into too much of a political debate, this is a summation of Neela Banerjee’s LA Times article, and a short, short discussion on Georgia’s water situation.

What’s the bottom line?  Regardless of what is happening in the Capitol, there are things you can do to make the drought seem a little more manageable:

We are still experiencing a drought, so conserve water.  Think about evaporation losses.  Think about water lost to wasting.  Think about just how long you need to shower, or how many times you need to wash your car.

Think at the sink.

Originally posted on waterconservationstation.blogspot.com, 9/18/12

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