Georgia and Tennessee have been engaged in a long-standing battle over water rights. The dispute has to do with the Tennessee River and, as Georgia claims, state boundary lines that Tennessee may or may not have claimed from its southern neighbor in order to control the river and all the drinking water it provides. Now, Georgia's state senate has taken action and voted 48-2 to pass a resolution that would correct the state's northern border.
"The Tennessee Valley Authority has identified the Tennessee River as a likely source of water for North Georgia," said Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, as he presented the resolution. "Yet the state of Tennessee has used mismarked boundary lines to block our access to this important waterway."
What are the Georgia state senators basing their claims on? A nearly 200-year-old land survey. That survey, drawn in 1818, put the Georgia-Tennessee border one mile south of where it should have been, denying Georgia access to the bountiful, and perhaps inappropriately named, Tennessee River, which, as Sen. Shafer points out, is fed in part by Georgia water.
"Georgia's streams and creeks feed the Tennessee River," Shafer added. "In fact, over six percent of the water of the Tennessee River originates in Georgia."
The Tennessee Valley Authority, possibly covering for their land-grabbing forefathers, is denying part of Shafer's statement. "We aren't certain where Sen. Shafer got his information, but TVA is not involved in this discussion at this point," TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said.
If Tennessee refuses to settle on the issue, the Georgia senate wants the state's distract attorney to sue to gain control of the area. The dispute has become increasingly urgent in recent years, with up to 99 percent of Georgia suffering some level of drought 2012.
This isn't the first time Shafer has taken up the noble cause. In 2008, he tried and failed to lead a similar measure. Politicians, at least in Tennessee, didn't take that attempt very seriously.
Mayor Ron Littlefield of Chattanooga, Tenn., said he was disappointed that Mr. Shafer did not seem to be having the fun that the mayor sees as one of the joys of Southern politics. "I saw him grumbling that we didn't seem to be taking it seriously," Mr. Littlefield said. "Well, I'm sorry, we're not."
Mr. Shafer shrugged off responses by various Tennessee officials who have called the resolution absurd, laughable, crazy and idiotic. "They've responded with jokes and catcalls because they simply don't have any legitimate arguments to make," he said.
Left out in all of this is Alabama, which faced terrible droughts of its own last year and controls, in the northeastern corner of its state, a part of the Tennessee River. As an impartial observer born and raised in Georgia, I can assure you that not only is Tennessee in the wrong (as they often are) but also that no one cares about Alabama.
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