Thirsty Atlanta to Battle Southeast States over Lake Lanier Water Supply

For nearly twenty years Florida and Alabama have turned a critical eye toward Atlanta’s water habits — especially, the city’s persistent tapping of Lake Lanier. But two court cases should soon determine who has rights to which water source and why.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a U.S. District Court in Florida is set to decide whether Atlanta can legally use the Lake Lanier reservoir as its main source of water. Georgia argues that Lanier’s Buford Dam exists strategically above the state’s metropolis for precisely that reason.

Yet, according to state attorney in Alabama, Matt Lembke, federal taxpayer dollars built the reservoir and “as much as the Atlanta area views it as its private drinking water reservoir, that is not what federal law says it was built to do.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is going decide this fall whether to accept a petition from Georgia for permission to use Lake Lanier for another twenty years, buying the state time to build new reservoirs.

“The domestic use of water hasn’t changed. The quantity has changed. But the purpose of people having water to drink, that is one constant.” says top New Mexico water attorney and consultant for Georgia, Charles DuMars.

While experts analyzing the case for Georgia are usually less optimistic, attorney Gil Rogers of the Southern Environmental Law Center, a non-profit legal team in Atlanta, believes there is a third way.

“Generally, we’d like to see all this money that’s been paying off lawyers for the state put into sustainable water use so Atlanta doesn’t have to worry about building more reservoirs,” says Rogers. “There are ways to protect Georgia’s interest in water without being in court.”

Read more here.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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