David Cook: Want our water?

David Cook: Want our water?

February 27th, 2013 by David Cook in Opinion Columns

David Cook

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse/Times Free Press.

Give us the Falcons.

Or St. Simons Island.

Build us a Chattanooga-drivers-only lane through the unholy land that is I-75-through-Atlanta.

Apologize for Newt. Admit your aquarium isn't as good as ours.

Resurrect Lewis Grizzard.

Georgia Legislature, if you want our water, you've got to sweeten the pot.

Don't just dust off some forgotten history about where the state boundary was supposed to go (ask the Creeks and Cherokees how that story ends) and expect us to give you part of the Tennessee River.

At least get Jimmy Carter to negotiate talks or something.

Foreshadowing what many thinkers call the coming wars over resources (local and global), the Georgia legislature is trying to offer a trade with Tennessee in order to gain more access to the Tennessee River.

Why? Because they're running out of water.

And they want some of ours.

"Not out of this river," Tennessee Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, told the Times Free Press.

What if every Tennessean gets a round at Augusta National? Free beer at Amen Corner.

(Maybe even those kind old Augusta gentlemen there would be good enough to let our little ladies play too? Please, suh?)

A lifetime supply of peaches? Peanuts? Whatever comes out of Smyrna?

I don't mean any disrespect toward Georgia. At least, not much. It's a wonderful state to travel through on your way to the beach.

(Forbes just named Atlanta its 16th most miserable city in the U.S.)

This water conflict brings up larger questions: How do we find ways to co-exist over shared, and diminishing, resources?

Especially in the world to come.

"Population growth, falling water tables, rising temperature, ice melting, and the use of grain to produce fuel for cars," writes noted thinker Lester Brown in "Plan B 4.0'' (free download at earth-policy.org).

Rising food costs. Crazier weather patterns. Greater demands, fewer resources. It's true in America, and even more so in the rest of the world.

For billions on earth, finding water is the first thought in the morning and the last at night. Just getting ... water. (Makes you realize our problems aren't really problems.)

Multiple countries face massive food shortages as aquifers dry and the ability to irrigate grows harder.

Fertile Crescent countries like Saudi Arabia, Brown writes, are now ending their production of water-intensive grain; instead, they will begin importing millions of tons a year.

"It is the first country to publicly project how aquifer depletion will shrink its grain harvest," Brown writes.

Out west, officials auction off water rights to the Colorado River. Farmers, instead of growing crops, sell water rights to thirsty cities; to make things even more complicated, fracking companies now compete for water.

At some point, things will get so hairy that we will have to truly rethink the way we see the land. Water. Air. Our old subdue-and-cast-dominion philosophy is not sustainable.

We need something more humble. Wiser.

Georgia, for its part, is trying to implement a lot of water-friendly measures. Better plumbing. Irrigation systems that shut off when it rains. More financial incentives. Water audits for home and business. Public education. Affordable low-flow toilets.

"We have out-California'ed California," one official said last year.

Good. My hunch is that your work on water conservation -- a result of such need -- could lead to a truly water-friendly Georgia, so innovative that Tennessee could learn from you. Maybe even work together on a water treaty of sorts.

Especially if you can bring back REM.

And Chipper.