ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers are “serious” about reclaiming the state’s intended border about a mile north into Tennessee from the current state line — and Peach State rights to the Tennessee River.
Both the House and Senate today voted overwhelmingly approval of legislation to create a commission that would work with Tennessee and North Carolina officials to re-establish Georgia’s northern border at the 35th parallel.
The accepted contention is that the state line was mistakenly marked nearly 200 years ago about a mile too far south by surveyors who, according to legend, were careless due to fears of wildfires and native Indians.
“This is a serious effort to secure our border and begin a discussion of water sharing,” said Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, who sponsored the legislation and revived a border dispute that is more relevant today due to historic drought pinching North Georgia’s water resources.
Tennessee officials, though, don’t expect to be cooperative with their thirsty neighbors to the South.
“A waste of hot air” is what Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield called the Georgia legislative exercise.
“The Georgia Legislature should be considering serious matters relevant to conservation matters and reservoirs ... instead of going off chasing imaginary rabbits,” he said.
In his speech to the Senate, which passed the resolution unanimously, Sen. Shafer said, while the Tennessee River could give Georgia a much needed additional water source, lawmakers still need to work on conservation and reservoirs to better manage the current water supply.
“Drawing water from the Tennessee River is not a solution,” he said.
If Tennessee officials aren’t cooperative, lawmakers gave the border commission permission to pursue other avenues to reclaim the lost land, including taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where state border disputes are heard.
See tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press for complete coverage.