Atlanta television station WXIA sent a crew to Nashville last week to ask Gov. Bill Haslam the question on the tip of many Georgians' tongues these days: Why won't the Volunteer State give up water from the Tennessee River to slake Georgians' voracious thirst?
Haslam generally dismissed Georgia officials' claim to a portion of the river in Marion County based on what they say was a faulty 19th century land survey.
"We're very satisfied with the situation the way it is now, for good reason," a smiling Haslam told WXIA reporter Doug Richards.
He said it's "beyond my capacity" to say whether Georgia has any business accessing the Tennessee River.
Richards shot back with, "Well, surveyors say that they do."
Haslam replied, "Yeah. Again, it's not an issue I spend a whole lot of time focused on."
The governor said he knows Georgia lawmakers have authorized a march to the U.S. Supreme Court over the disputed boundary. But he said Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper feels fairly good about the state's legal position.
But why not make peace with Georgia, which has fought other water wars with Alabama and Florida, the reporter asked.
"Like Nixon going to China. Extend the olive branch to Georgia," Richards said.
"Well," Haslam said laughing, "we offered to trade 'em for the Braves or Stone Mountain. But they didn't."
"I'm teasing," the governor quickly added.
The station also interviewed Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who said he plans to bring the issue up with Haslam at an upcoming meeting of governors.
"I think there is an opportunity to at least have a civil discussion about that issue," Deal said.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...
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