Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said Monday that Georgia officials should get serious about conservation, building new reservoirs and other solutions instead of trying to shift the state line in hopes of getting water from the Tennessee River.
Mr. Littlefield said Georgia state Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, and other Peach State lawmakers who want a border commission to study moving the border roughly a mile to the north to tap into the river have better options to address water woes in the midst of a drought.
“Under the best of circumstances it would take decades, decades for (Sen. Shafer) to achieve what he’s proposed to do, even if he got green lights along the way,” Mr. Littlefield told the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club Monday afternoon. “In those same decades with less money, they could go a long way toward solving their problem.”
Mr. Littlefield’s speech came five days after one of his aides and City Councilman Manny Rico delivered about 2,000 bottles of water to the state Capitol in Atlanta as part of “Give our Georgia Friends a Drink Day.” The mayor issued a proclamation to coincide with the Atlanta trip, which he called a “stunt” on Monday.
Georgia lawmakers assert that the state line was drawn inaccurately and passed separate resolutions in each chamber that would create a border commission to look at the issue.
Georgia state Rep. John Meadows, R-Calhoun, said he would not disagree with the mayor and added that it is unlikely the state line will be shifted to the north.
But he said Georgia officials should investigate the border issue.
“Wouldn’t you check it out if you had the deed that said you owned the five acres behind you?” he said.
Rep. Meadows, who is on the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, said water storage is the best long-term answer to water woes. He said lawmakers are discussing a bill that would make it easier to finance the construction of water reservoirs.
During his speech to the Pachyderm Club, Mr. Littlefield said it may be costly to build water storage units but that would be a better option than trying to pump the resource uphill to Atlanta.
“As difficult as it might be to build those reservoirs today and as expensive as it might be, remember moving water from the Tennessee River to Atlanta is not really a practical solution,” he said.