Water Wars

We here in the West tend to think parochially about our water wars, as if we’re all six guns throwing down at the OK corral over whether the humble sheepherders or the evil cattle barons control the creek – as if no one knows water fights like us grizzled Westerners. But right now it looks like we’ve got nothin’ on the good ol’ boys down south:

Georgia lost a major court fight in the Southern battle over water rights on Tuesday when a federal appellate-court panel said the state could not withdraw as much water as it had planned from an Atlanta-area reservoir.

The victory went to Alabama and Florida, which had contended that Georgia’s plan would siphon off water that should flow downstream to their consumers. The two states had brought the appellate suit to undo an agreement between Georgia and the Army Corps of Engineers that would have given Georgia rights to use nearly a quarter of the water in Lake Sidney Lanier, which supplies drinking water to much of northern Georgia.

The reality is that we started with the idea of scarcity, and all of the fights (lawyerly and otherwise) have left us with a much more well-developed set of institutional structures for handling water fights. Down south, they seem to be newer to this Wild West water scarcity idea.

(Hat tip Belshaw)


  1. Pingback: Burnout, shmurnout: Waterblogged.info is back in the house! « Waterblogged

  2. As Georgia becomes more desperate in its desire to continue full-tilt development without all that dreary long-term planning and conservation, it is reviving a two-century-old border dispute with Tennessee to get access to the Tennessee River. I linked to a Georgian’s blog entry about it because the comments are ummmm, amusing. Also amusing are the jokes coming out of the Tennessee legislature of Tennessee about sending militia to protect the border. I also linked to an LA Times article. I don’t know how long it will be available without registration. (I reduced the links with tinyurl.com.)


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