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Monday, October 15, 2007


posted by on October 15 at 10:34 AM

“Metro Atlanta could run out of drinking water in as little as four months according to dire predictions from top water officials on Thursday.”

“Lake Sidney Lanier, metro Atlanta’s main source of water, has about three months of storage left, according to state and federal officials.”

I’m no drought specialist, so I’m not sure how many cities cope, on average, with this kind of shortage, but I’ve got friends telling me that there’s a reason why these two articles, printed on the same day, have different timetables listed—because they could both be wrong. Water’s vanishing fast from Northern Georgia, and it appears that no national news organizations…er, few (kudos, commenter #9) are picking up on what is already an interesting bureaucratic battle between water-hungry businesses, spoiled lawn-loving residents, bumbling state utility companies and—hoo boy—the protection of endangered mussels species.

The rumors are flying—a busted water main here, a lack of city response to reports of huge leaks there… Ultimately, it looks like plans to encourage conservation and negotiate a backup water supply have come way too late in the game, and while I’m not a fan of scaremongering news reports, data points at a dry Atlanta winter and, therefore, a shit-ton of scaremongering news reports in the very near future. But why panic? The flowers will still bloom, little boys and girls.

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I'm sick of reading 'endangered'. Who cares? Kill that shit.

Posted by Consideration | October 15, 2007 10:39 AM

In this case, as so often, the endangered mussel is the canary in the coal mine. It's not about the mussel, it's about the habitat that makes the mussel possible, and by the bye makes human beings possible too. Water crises are likely to be huge news in the coming decade; I admit I didn't expect to hear about Atlanta's first. You should see what's going on in the Southwest.

Posted by Fnarf | October 15, 2007 10:48 AM


I thought you meant Drylanta would do for diarrhea what Mylanda did for heartburn.

Dang. Some days I could use a little of that Drylanta to settle things down, if you know what I mean.

Posted by elenchos | October 15, 2007 10:49 AM

What a bunch of pussies. Albuquerque has gone through water rationing each and every summer for as long as I can remember, and no one suffers horribly for it. Smart people have no lawns to begin with, car washes recycle all their water, and people still take normal showers.

Posted by Gitai | October 15, 2007 11:01 AM

Who needs hurricanes or natural means to create civil disasters in large cities?


Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 15, 2007 11:04 AM

It's funny because just this morning NPR was reporting an almost identical water crisis in California. And like Atlanta we also have an endangered species - the Delta smelt- that is potentially compounding the problem. A federal judge ordered a reduction of up to a third in water supplies in order to protect the Delta smelt. While I agree with Fnarf, that the fish may just be the canary in the coalmine, it's clear that SOMETHING needs to be done.

Posted by arduous | October 15, 2007 11:06 AM

Next time you're at the store pick up a bottle of Dasani brand water. Turn it over and look at the label. In small print you will see that it is a Coca Cola company and it is bottled in...Atlanta, GA. Yup Dasani is Georgian tap water...gee I wonder why they have a water shortage.

Posted by thaumaturgistguy | October 15, 2007 11:20 AM

wierd, i thought i saw this first on national television. maybe it was PBS?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 15, 2007 11:24 AM

what is wrong with you stanger? do you search once and then declare stories "uncovered by national media?"

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 15, 2007 11:26 AM

Anyone who waters their lawn should be shot.

Posted by Mahtli69 | October 15, 2007 11:55 AM

I'd actually been searching for this story in news reports all weekend. Sadly, ABC had to go and kill my inflated sense of exclusivity this morning. Thanks for pointing it out, as I don't exactly benefit from the story being hidden.

Posted by Sam M. | October 15, 2007 11:56 AM

Want scary? read anything about drinking water supplies in China.

Posted by anna | October 15, 2007 12:52 PM

The difference between this and China is that China is trying to balance rapid industrialization with feeding 1 billion+ citizens, and Atlanta is trying to balance watering the lawns of 1 million+ gated community residents and making caramel sugar water.

Posted by laterite | October 15, 2007 1:21 PM

Urghhhhhhh. Coke only makes the *syrup* in Atlanta. The Coke itself is bottled around the world with LOCAL water sources.

Posted by Big Sven | October 15, 2007 2:11 PM

Anyone who waters their lawn and uses herbicides/pesticides on it should be shot twice.

Posted by keshmeshi | October 15, 2007 2:30 PM

@14: I'm sorry, were you trying to make some sort of counterpoint? It takes water to make the syrup, genius. Lots of water.

"Coca-Cola is waiting to see what restrictions might be imposed at its Atlanta syrup plant, but has already cut back as part of a corporate water conservation plan."

Posted by laterite | October 15, 2007 2:41 PM

Didn't they privatize the Atlanta water utility ten years or so ago? Could that have anything to do with the poor preparation for this crisis?

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 15, 2007 4:15 PM

laterite- *Bzzzt.* I'm sorry, that's the wrong answer. Cola syrup is mostly corn syrup. Not water. The very article you quote points out that Coca Cola isn't even the biggest beverage water consumer in Atlanta- that would be a Gatorade (PepsiCo) bottler. But thank you for playing...

Posted by Big Sven | October 15, 2007 8:42 PM

Right, the end product *is* syrup. That's why I said it takes lots of water to *make* the syrup. You don't just mash up some corn and bottle it. A huge amount of water is required as a medium for steeping and separating. The article wouldn't have made a point to mention Coca-Cola if they weren't a huge consumer of municipal water resources.

Anyway, my original point, which has now been successfully trodden to death, is that this drought is driven by our wasteful society. At least in China the problems of water supply are driven by the need to grow food for half a continent. In Atlanta it's so people's lawns can look pretty and their teeth can rot with sugar water.

Posted by laterite | October 16, 2007 12:07 AM

laterite- my point had been that Coca Cola doesn't use as much water in Atlanta as one might think- only 1/7th as much, in fact- thinking that many people didn't know that Coke's only product was syrup, not bottles of soda.

But then you decided to be a dick and call me a "genius", and I had to respond. So it's your fault the argument got derailed, not mine.

And for the record, there's no "steeping and separating". The amount of water used is less than the volume of the syrup produced. Go to if you want an example of how to make cola.

But you're *totally* right about Atlanta deserving it's fate and capitalism digging its own grave and all that. You're so smart, you're probably right about everything.

Posted by Big Sven | October 16, 2007 8:55 AM

Thank you for acknowledging that fact.

Posted by laterite | October 16, 2007 11:57 AM

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