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Is Atlanta sucking the south dry?

Marketplace Staff Sep 8, 2009
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Is Atlanta sucking the south dry?

Marketplace Staff Sep 8, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Atlanta has been called the “capital of the south.” It’s home to Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Home Depot. Its population has more than doubled in the last 30 years. But neighboring states say as Atlanta grows, other parts of the south are drying up. Tanya Ott has our story.


Tanya Ott: For nearly two decades Georgia, Florida and Alabama have fought over how much water Atlanta can drain from nearby Lake Lanier to fuel its sprawling metro area. Critics say there may not be enough water downstream to cool power plants in Alabama or protect oyster beds in Florida.

It’s a tri-state water war and a war of words. Georgia governor Sonny Perdue says he’ll “fight to the death” in what Alabama governor Bob Riley calls Atlanta’s “massive illegal water grab.”

Charles Krautler, director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, says the other states may just be jealous of Atlanta’s economy:

Charles Krautler: I think that there has been a perception that if there is some mechanism that limits Atlanta’s future growth that that might open opportunities for other areas.

But Cindy Lowry of the environmental group Alabama Rivers Alliance says she doesn’t know why anyone would be jealous of Atlanta’s growth:

Cindy Lowry: It provides a lot of challenges environmentally, economically, in all sorts of ways.

In July, a federal judge ruled that Atlanta was not authorized to take drinking water from Lake Lanier. If the three states don’t come to an agreement, Congress may step in. And that makes this an issue for everyone, not just the south. There are similar reservoirs in 27 other states.

In Birmingham, Ala., I’m Tanya Ott for Marketplace.

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