published Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

David Cook: Want our water?

Give us the Falcons.

Or St. Simons Island.

Build us a Chattanooga-drivers-only lane through the unholy land that is I-75-through-Atlanta.

Apologize for Newt. Admit your aquarium isn't as good as ours.

Resurrect Lewis Grizzard.

Georgia Legislature, if you want our water, you've got to sweeten the pot.

Don't just dust off some forgotten history about where the state boundary was supposed to go (ask the Creeks and Cherokees how that story ends) and expect us to give you part of the Tennessee River.

At least get Jimmy Carter to negotiate talks or something.

Foreshadowing what many thinkers call the coming wars over resources (local and global), the Georgia legislature is trying to offer a trade with Tennessee in order to gain more access to the Tennessee River.

Why? Because they're running out of water.

And they want some of ours.

"Not out of this river," Tennessee Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, told the Times Free Press.

What if every Tennessean gets a round at Augusta National? Free beer at Amen Corner.

(Maybe even those kind old Augusta gentlemen there would be good enough to let our little ladies play too? Please, suh?)

A lifetime supply of peaches? Peanuts? Whatever comes out of Smyrna?

I don't mean any disrespect toward Georgia. At least, not much. It's a wonderful state to travel through on your way to the beach.

(Forbes just named Atlanta its 16th most miserable city in the U.S.)

This water conflict brings up larger questions: How do we find ways to co-exist over shared, and diminishing, resources?

Especially in the world to come.

"Population growth, falling water tables, rising temperature, ice melting, and the use of grain to produce fuel for cars," writes noted thinker Lester Brown in "Plan B 4.0'' (free download at

Rising food costs. Crazier weather patterns. Greater demands, fewer resources. It's true in America, and even more so in the rest of the world.

For billions on earth, finding water is the first thought in the morning and the last at night. Just getting ... water. (Makes you realize our problems aren't really problems.)

Multiple countries face massive food shortages as aquifers dry and the ability to irrigate grows harder.

Fertile Crescent countries like Saudi Arabia, Brown writes, are now ending their production of water-intensive grain; instead, they will begin importing millions of tons a year.

"It is the first country to publicly project how aquifer depletion will shrink its grain harvest," Brown writes.

Out west, officials auction off water rights to the Colorado River. Farmers, instead of growing crops, sell water rights to thirsty cities; to make things even more complicated, fracking companies now compete for water.

At some point, things will get so hairy that we will have to truly rethink the way we see the land. Water. Air. Our old subdue-and-cast-dominion philosophy is not sustainable.

We need something more humble. Wiser.

Georgia, for its part, is trying to implement a lot of water-friendly measures. Better plumbing. Irrigation systems that shut off when it rains. More financial incentives. Water audits for home and business. Public education. Affordable low-flow toilets.

"We have out-California'ed California," one official said last year.

Good. My hunch is that your work on water conservation -- a result of such need -- could lead to a truly water-friendly Georgia, so innovative that Tennessee could learn from you. Maybe even work together on a water treaty of sorts.

Especially if you can bring back REM.

And Chipper.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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jesse said...

The Augusta National idea has some merit!

February 27, 2013 at 7:20 a.m.
moon4kat said...

How about a high-speed rail line through Chattanooga, linking Nashville & Atlanta?

February 27, 2013 at 7:51 a.m.
Pearl said...

This column is very appropriate - thank you, David Cook - and, yes, Tennessee has an abundance of water. Water is our most precious resource and should not be squandered. Which brings to mind UT's desire to be fracked, for money of course. Why the great rush (oh, yes, the money) in Tennessee for poorly regulated fracking, risking what has become a scarce and essential resource? We should conserve our water resources as they can never be replaced.

p.s. and Cynthia Tucker...

February 27, 2013 at 8:13 a.m.
John_II said...

For the history of corruption in Georgia politics, just google the "Yazoo land fraud" which began before 1800 and basically bankrupted Georgia. This happened about the time frame in which the original Tennessee-Georgia boundary was surveyed. The federal government agreed to bail them out in exchange for the Mississippi Territory.

Little change in politics, just politicians. This nonsense is just SSDD (same stuff, different day).

February 27, 2013 at 2:08 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

Pearl said: "Tennessee has an abundance of water. Water is our most precious resource and should not be squandered. Which brings to mind UT's desire to be fracked, for money of course.

Lets also not forget the more than 354 million gallons of raw sewage that the City of Chattanooga has been dumping into the Tennessee River since 2005.

February 27, 2013 at 7:39 p.m.
AndrewLohr said...


You apologize to Newt: he balanced the budget and worked across the aisle on welfare reform, while the economy did OK. Our current President would do well to fire Biden, appoint Newt veep, and resign.

Sell water in small chunks to the highest bidders, rather than ration it to whoever has connections. Al Gore will buy many more chunks than I, but after awhile the next chunk will be worth as much to me as to him. Let prices rise so they tell the truth: use less! Produce more! instead of telling political lies about them and filling the swimming pools of the powerful without letting the poor buy enough to wash diapers.

Saudi Arabia is part of the fertile crescent?

Grain for gas? That feeds Archer-Daniels-Midland while starving the 3rd world. Methanol might excel ethanol. Let prices decide.

February 28, 2013 at 12:31 a.m.
jjmez said...

You apologize to Newt: he balanced the budget

Andyboo-boo that's simply not true.

Actually, federal spending went up during the time framed mentioned in an ad about newty's cuttings and balancing the budget.

factcheck: "In addition, the ad credits Gingrich for “record-breaking surpluses.” There were surpluses for four straight years — from fiscal years 1998 through 2001 — but Gingrich already had left Congress in January 1999. The largest of those surpluses came in fiscal year 2000, when Gingrich was already out of office"

factcheck: "Let’s first take the claim that spending was “slashed.” It’s simply not true. The Office of Management and Budget’s historical tables show total outlays (table 1.1) continued to rise from fiscal year 1995 ($1.5 trillion) to fiscal year 2000 ($1.8 trillion). That’s an increase of $273.2 billion, or 18 percent."

see more at:

February 28, 2013 at 10:18 a.m.
Salsa said...

Georgia never learns. They have already fought a battle like this over a boundary with South Carolina and lost. Oh...and have Jimmy Carter negotiate? LOL...maybe he can tell GA they are just in a malaise and he recounts his tale of being attacked by a river rabbit.

February 28, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.
bbeforec said...

Trying to be cute, but not being a good American. I haven't anything good to say about this article. To heck with the borders it would not hurt anything for Georgia to have a straw in the Tennessee River, I do not consider those opposed to be good Americans. I have paid penalties all my life for living within twenty miles of three states. Stupid.

February 28, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.
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