My eyes always widen whenever I see a news article concerning the current water wars in Georgia. I'm guessing that apathy toward the crisis will continue until the reality of it hits us in our daily lives. Then Augusta will rear its collective ugly head and scream for the heads of those who allowed it to happen. In short, we the citizens of Augusta are "those" doing the allowing.
A federal judge gave Atlanta permission to tap into Lake Lanier -- a vital reservoir of the Chattahoochee Basin -- at the expense of its downstream neighbors, Florida and Alabama. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this newest turn of events is only a temporary solution to Atlanta's future needs. And guess who is going to be the next "downstream neighbor"?
In general, we as a state waste so much water it is heart-breaking.
I'm happy with regulations on lawn care maintenance and quick-flow toilets. However, these simple measures are merely the thin crust on a delicate pie. Our entire Georgia community must start thinking ahead about conservation, including regulations on construction and licensing for car wash businesses.
The folks in Atlanta are out of solutions for water -- at the least, desperate -- and our starving state capital better get prepared for it. If not, the political and judicial system will begin tapping into the Savannah River Basin, and this will be disastrous for all Georgia and South Carolina citizens that depend upon the bounty of our river.
No matter what pledges are made by the powers-that-be, when crunch time comes, they will say "sorry" about the needs of Athens, Augusta and Savannah, and start tapping into any water supply that suits their fancy. All it will take is a handful of vote-seeking politicos to turn the wheels and push for raping the Savannah River Basin. And I seriously doubt there are any federal judges who are willing to allow Atlanta to, so to speak, go down the drain.
It's time, Augusta. Ten years isn't far away. As taxpaying, voting citizens, it is time to pay attention. This isn't an issue about a baseball stadium, or closing a chunk of Laney-Walker Boulevard or building a convention center. This is about the quality of your lives and the lives of your children. It will be a sad day when our household water use is regulated through a meter, and a gallon of drinking water at Kroger costs more than a gallon of milk.
Please speak up while you still have time.