No statewide vic­tory in wa­ter wars

The Covington News - - The second opinion -

We've had our say. Here's a sam­pling of what other news­pa­pers are say­ing around Ge­or­gia

For the umpteenth time over more than 20 years and through ad­min­is­tra­tions and Leg­is­la­tures of both par­ties, we'll say it again: While the in­ter­ests of the state of Ge­or­gia and our mas­sive cap­i­tal city cer­tainly over­lap, they are not in­her­ently syn­ony­mous.

In wa­ter is­sues, in fact, they have of­ten been in con­flict. And Ge­or­gians in down­river com­mu­ni­ties like (Colum­bus) have built up more than two decades' worth of frus­tra­tion try­ing to con­vince the pow­ers un­der the gold dome that the wa­ter in­ter­ests of "Ge­or­gia" mean some­thing other than pump­ing enough into Atlanta to sup­ply the city's open-ended sprawl un­til the end of recorded time.

From a legal per­spec­tive, Ge­or­gia's team of at­tor­neys did in­deed pre­vail with the 11th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in over­turn­ing a 2-year-old rul­ing that had put the state at the mercy of a fasttick­ing clock. U.S. District Judge Paul Mag­nu­son ruled in July 2009 that Lake Lanier, a U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers im­pound­ment on the Chat­ta­hoochee north of Atlanta, had never been con­structed for the pur­pose of sup­ply­ing Atlanta with wa­ter. The court gave the state three years to work out a wa­ter shar­ing agree­ment with Alabama and Florida be­fore the tap would be turned off — an out­come that would be noth­ing less than dev­as­tat­ing for mil­lions in Atlanta.

Alabama and Florida at­tor­neys took Mag­nu­son's point a step fur­ther: Not only was Lake Lanier not im­pounded to sup­ply Atlanta with wa­ter, but it was a fed­eral rather than a state or mu­nic­i­pal pro­ject — the city did not pay for it, and there­fore has no legal right to ap­pro­pri­ate its waters.

The court unan­i­mously ruled other­wise: "We know that Congress con­tem­plated that wa­ter sup­ply may have to be in­creased over time as the Atlanta area grows," the judges wrote.

Un­less there's a spe­cific law or prece­dent in there some­where, to base a rul­ing this pro­found on what judges say they "know" Congress "con­tem­plated" half a cen­tury ago sounds sus­pi­ciously like that dreaded "ju­di­cial ac­tivism" we've all been taught to fear and loathe.

- Colum­bus Ledger-Enquirer

Parks need no pizazzz

As far as state parks are con­cerned, be­ing bor­ing shouldn't al­ways nec­es­sar­ily be seen as a bad thing.

It could, for in­stance, mean be­ing some­where with lit­tle to do other than con­tem­plate one's place in the nat­u­ral world. Or, it could mean hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect qui­etly on past events at one his­toric spot or an­other. In both in­stances, there's lit­tle ev­i­dence of ac­tiv­ity, but that doesn't mean that peo­ple en­gag­ing in those pur­suits are bored. They might, in fact, be seek­ing just the peace they can find in those places.

That's why it's just a lit­tle trou­bling to hear the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources has bought into a con­sul­tant's as­sess­ment that the state's parks are bor­ing, and have "drafted a plan for adding piz­zazz" to the parks...

The DNR's goal "is for each fa­cil­ity to gen­er­ate at least 75 per­cent of what it takes to op­er­ate." The good news is that parks with lodges al­ready gen­er­ate 91 per­cent of needed op­er­at­ing rev­enues, and that state golf cour­ses gen­er­ate rev­enue equal­ing 71 per­cent of needed op­er­at­ing rev­enue...

The bad news — or, to be fair, the po­ten­tially bad news — is that a sig­nif­i­cant part of the DNR's strat­egy for mov­ing closer to across-the-board self-fund­ing "re­quires con­struc­tion of new lodges, camp stores and gift shops." It's cer­tainly to be hoped that the DNR will think through those projects to en­sure that they don't have any over­whelm­ingly neg­a­tive ef­fects on the abil­ity of peo­ple to come to the parks to ex­pe­ri­ence the nat­u­ral world. But it's worth wor­ry­ing that such ini­tia­tives might dis­cour­age use of the parks by a sig­nif­i­cant con­tin­gent of the peo­ple who use them for the es­cape they can of­fer from the worka­day world.

- Athens Banner-Her­ald

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