Georgia declares drought emergency


    Georgia governor, corps differ over extent of water emergency
    • Story Highlights
    • Governor asks president to declare North Georgia a disaster area
    • Army Corps official denies there is a Lake Lanier water crisis
    • Army Corps releases millions of gallons daily from the lake
    • Georgia will seek injunction to stop water releases from reservoir
    LAKE LANIER, Georgia (CNN) -- Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a water supply emergency in north Georgia on Saturday as its water resources dwindled to a dangerously low level after months of drought.

    But an Army Corps of Engineers official denied there is a water crisis.
    Perdue, who signed an executive order Saturday, asked for President Bush's help in easing regulations that require the state to send water downstream to Alabama and Florida.

    He also asked the president to declare 85 counties as federal disaster areas.
    Perdue blasted what he called the "silly rules" governing the water supplies, noting that even if the state got replenishing rains, it could not by law conserve those, but must release 3.2 billion gallons a day downstream.

    "The actions of the Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service are not only irresponsible, I believe they're downright dangerous and Georgia cannot stand for this negligence," Perdue said.

    The Army Corps of Engineers, however, presented a different assessment.
    If there were nine months without rain, water supplies still would be adequate, said Maj. Daren Payne, the Army Corps' deputy commander for the Mobile, Alabama, District.

    The corps sent a letter to Perdue assessing the situation and pointing out that they are "not going to run out [of water] any time soon," Payne said.

    The corps -- under an agreement reached in the 1980s with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state and downstream users -- releases 5,000 feet of water per second from the dam between Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River.

    The figure was based on a Florida hydroelectric power plant's needs, as well as concern for endangered species in the river, including mussels and sturgeon.

    On Friday, Georgia filed a motion seeking to require the Army Corps of Engineers to restrict water flows from the lake and other north Georgia reservoirs. [​IMG]Watch Gov. Perdue blast a "disaster of federal bureaucracy" »

    The corps said it needs 120 days to review its water policies, according to Perdue.
    The Bush administration has been in contact with the Georgia congressional delegation on the matter, the White House said Saturday afternoon.

    "We have already begun drafting interim rules to ... address the endangered species requirements, and the Army Corps has started the process of revising the operations manual for the river basin," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

    Months of drought

    Rainfall in north Georgia, which includes the Atlanta metropolitan area, is far below normal for this time of year.

    That was evident as Perdue addressed reporters on packed red clay on the shore of Lake Lanier -- the main water source for the Atlanta area's 5 million residents.
    Normally, he'd be standing in water, but levels have dropped to historically low levels. The drought is hurting businesses and scaring away tourists.

    Efforts are under way to try to reduce the flow from Lake Lanier by looking into requirements for endangered species and demands downstream for power plants and industries, Payne said.

    A new biological review of endangered species needs will end in November and will be examined by officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see if water requirements can be reduced, he added.

    "The corps is not opposed to reducing the flow, if it can do it legally," Payne said.
    Georgia, Alabama and Florida have been wrangling over how to allocate water from the Chattahoochee watershed for years as metro Atlanta's population has doubled since 1980.

    "No one is sacrificing, no one is sharing the pain like the people in north Georgia are," Perdue said, noting there are no water restrictions in Florida or southern Alabama.
    Georgia has imposed a mandatory ban on outdoor water use by homeowners in the region, but Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle warned this is a situation "we cannot conserve our way out of."

    Meanwhile, individual counties are monitoring illegal water use.
    In Douglas County, violators will have their water supply turned off and may have to pay up to $1,000 to get it turned back on.

    Cobb County, just north of Atlanta, is doling out fines of up to $500 for repeat offenders.

    CNN's Rusty Dornin and Tristan Smith contributed to this report.
  2. I heard about this on the radio last week. At that point I was unsure if my county was affected, but I know for sure that a lot of counties in north Georgia were and still are, as close as a couple counties north of where I am. I know that they're making a big deal about watering lawns, washing cars outdoors, etc. That there's a drought surprises me. It seems as if there was no less rain this year than any other year. According to this week-old map, I'm definitely living in the "crisis" area.
  3. They are saying that we are getting close to a crisis here in NC. Many car washes have shut down or are on severe restriction. People can't water their lawns much. Yet they are still watering golf courses. I don't get that.
  4. I think it's a shame that our Governor has known that this could be a potential problem and over the years nothing has been done to seek options to have a back-up plan. Even our former Governor Zell Miller had options in place and proposals he was working on that he turned over to the next Governor. Now we are being asked to cut back on taking showers and washing clothes and dishes....
  5. It's the worst in Athens-Clarke County - no watering outdoors, of any kind, whatsoever, period. None. They won't even let them water the football field, and when the rules apply to the UGA football team, you KNOW the rules are serious. none of the other rules apply to them! all the restaurants have stopped serving water with meals unless its upon request and most of the restaurants, even the nicer restaurants, have started using paper cups to cut down on dishwashing water consumption. all of my professors have addressed ways to conserve water in class.

    Athens could potentially run out of water by December, but they're still letting water out of Lake Lanier to protect the endangered mussels in Florida...i'm very much an animal person, but still, when it comes down to them or us, i pick US. That lake was created to provide water to humans.
  6. Lake Lanier is 3 months from being completely dry. They are saying if that does happen, there is no possible way it could ever be refilled. Home values will fall like a rock too... it's already horribly low it's sickning. I am near you Amanda and I just cannot believe we are being told to shower every other day.
  7. Be careful. Some of the other animal lovers on here will probably blast you for that statement. :rolleyes:

    I hate to hear of such serious restrictions in Georgia. I had no idea that people down there were being asked to shower every other day. So far I haven't seen any restaurants here using paper cups and things. It rained pretty hard yesterday and today, but I have no idea how much the rain helped our situation.
  8. lol, i thought about that when i typed it. i was like 'i wonder if someone's going to come along and tell me i shouldn't begrudge the mussels their water, that they're living things too.

    f the mussels! when the swankiest restaurant in town is serving its guests in paper cups and NO ONE IS COMPLAINING about it, you know things are bad.

    i did a deep conditioner on my hair this morning, and i turned off the water and got out of the shower this morning to let it soak in. normally i'd just stand there and enjoy the hot water and steam. for a while i didn't really buy that we were going to run out, but...the situation appears to be quite serious. its all they talk about on the news. they're encouraging us to buy bottled water instead of drinking tap water. people are being asked to keep their showers to 2-5 minutes and limit them to ever other day. people are being asked to put their dishes in the dishwasher instead of hand-washing. they've asked us to turn of the water while we suds our hair in the shower and our hands in the sink. i sell appliances part-time, and a lot of people that can afford it are coming in to replace their still-functioning top-load washers with front-loaders because they're 75% more water efficient. the governor is in an epic battle with alabama and florida to stop the army corps of engineers from releasing water from our state into theirs.

    so, like i said, f the mussels!
  9. :lol::roflmfao:
  10. F the mussels! I'm with you!
  11. The mussels can be sent here to shower with me if they want and we both can take our showers DAILY!!!