Mike the Mad Biologist

The Politics of Water Consumption

Tom Engelhardt asks the question I’ve wondered about Atlanta’s drought: what happens if there literally is no more water? Unfortunately, there don’t appear to be any answers.

The politics of a ‘dry’ Atlanta, or more accurately, a failed response to a ‘dry’ Atlanta, could really crack up the Republican coalition. One of the bulwarks of the Southern Republican base is conservative, white suburbs (and exurbs). What happens when they don’t have water? FEMA rides to the rescue?

[the Mad Biologist laughs himself silly]

This essentially would be Katrina without the storm–and it would keep going on and on. One doesn’t ‘rebuild’ from a drought. Mind you, I’m not hoping this happens–I have relatives in Atlanta, but if a major city and its white Republican suburbs dry up, this could be the death knell for Republican laissez-faire.

An aside: I remember reading that we lose up to a fifth of our available water because the infrastructure to transport it is so old. If that’s correct, this seems like something a sane government (i.e., not the administration of Little Lord Pontchartrain) would want to fund.

Comments

  1. #1 decrepitoldfool
    November 24, 2007

    Sonny Perdue has already carefully positioned the blame on liberal environmentalists for the flow regulations that send water downriver from lake Lanier.

  2. #2 brian
    November 24, 2007

    Wait a minute. I saw on the news that they had prayed for rain down there a few weeks ago. Doesn’t that mean the problem has already been taken care of? And I thought god was a Republican.

  3. #3 Hank Roberts
    November 24, 2007

    That wasn’t rain?

  4. #4 Hypatia
    November 24, 2007

    My Atlanta-dwelling progressive son’s reply to my WTF query:

    See chattahoochee – FL/AL/GA water fight over last 15 years.

    See many times defeated bills in state leg requiring low flush toilets, and other water saving stuff.

    See ignorence, greed and lousey media coverage…

    See Creative Loafing – look in archives – they’ve been reporting on this for years.

    Oh yeah – the kicker is, they (repubs) are trying to give public water resources to pvt interests…

    My apt complex meters THE whole property – not each home, thus my split of the bill subsidises other’s waste… Pisses me off…

  5. #5 Scorpio
    November 24, 2007

    I suppose that if they were bright, they would start digging wells right now — many of them. I don’t know if there are artesian wells under the GA bedrock, but someone better start looking.

  6. #6 mark
    November 25, 2007

    Call in the water witches!

    As your post title indicates, it’s a political war. Atlanta will never have sufficient water supplied from within its boundaries–it has to take water from far off, like so many cities do. And there is so much resistance to ideas that make sense.

    I haven’t been following the situation in Georgia, but a good place to start would be the US Geological Survey’s Georgia District Web site.

  7. #7 Tex
    November 26, 2007

    what happens if there literally is no more water? Unfortunately, there don’t appear to be any answers.

    The answers are obvious. 1) people move to where there is water, 2) they steal water from places that have it, or 3) they do nothing and die.

    I discussed this last month with relatives who live in Atlanta, and they were rather dismissive, saying “They won’t let Atlanta go away.” As if “They” were going to somehow magically make water appear.

    I dunno. “They” seemed to do a pretty good job of making New Orleans go away.

    What I can’t figure out is, with all of the hand wringing over multiple environmental disasters that are pretty much directly related to carrying capacity, why there has been almost no discussion of Zero population growth initiatives.

  8. #8 Dunc
    November 27, 2007

    What I can’t figure out is, with all of the hand wringing over multiple environmental disasters that are pretty much directly related to carrying capacity, why there has been almost no discussion of Zero population growth initiatives.

    Because talking about ZPG makes you an evil misanthrope. Even on ScienceBlogs:

    Any plan to regulate or even create an incentive for reducing the size or existance of families is one that forgets humanity and joy for the sake of cold scientific calculation.

  9. #9 Mark P
    November 27, 2007

    We already have the answer: Atlanta will take water from other areas. (Atlanta means more than just the City of Atlanta, it means the surrounding suburbs, which include both cities and counties.) They are trying to take water from, for example, my home area’s river basin. One county wants to take a significant amount of water to supply areas served mainly by septic systems, which means that even the treated sewage will be lost to downstream users. It is simply absurd to even suggest a reduction in growth, much less a complete stop to growth. Business interests are far, far to powerful. Eventually I suspect some “far-seeing” Atlantan will see the Tennessee River, which, to them, would appear to be inexhaustible.

  10. #10 Tex
    December 21, 2007

    I discussed this last month with relatives who live in Atlanta, and they were rather dismissive, saying “They won’t let Atlanta go away.” As if “They” were going to somehow magically make water appear.

  11. Prayer is the answer for everything. doesnt matter you are republican or democrat,pray, pray, and pray that is the only solution of atlanta’s water problem.
    http://www.umcssa.org

  12. #12 Single Mother Grants
    September 22, 2011

    It’s an issue that’s not going away and wont be easy to solve. The republicans are def in trouble