State Leaders Reluctant to Let More Tennessee Water Go to Georgia

Nov. 6, 2007

Gov. Phil Bredesen says he doesn't want to see more water being diverted out of Tennessee to relieve drought conditions in Atlanta.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin recently suggested exploring ways to pipe in water from other areas, including from the Tennessee or Savannah rivers, although Georgia officials said they have no plans to pursue such a plan.

But Bredesen said the state needs to be careful in managing its water.

"I would have a real problem ... with a wholesale transfer of water out of the Tennessee watershed," Bredesen said. "I just think it's one of the very important natural resources that we have in Tennessee, and (we) should be very, very cautious about allowing it to be degraded in any way," he said.

Bredesen, a Democrat, said he has no objections to the amounts of water currently sent outside the state under Tennessee's Interbasin Water Transfer Act. The law allows state regulators to control diversions between watersheds.

Bredesen said Chattanooga's Hamilton County already shares some Tennessee River water with nearby Dalton, Ga.

"That's probably appropriate, and that's basically suburban to Chattanooga," he said. "I don't have a problem with that."

Georgia officials say there's about 80 days' worth of drinking water left in Lake Lanier, which supplies 3 million people with water. But the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the region's water sources, contends there's enough left for about 280 days.

Source: The Commercial Appeal