Saturday, November 24, 2007

Georgia on my Mind

After 20 years of marriage, me and Mr. Daisy have certain rules worked out. One of these rules: whoever drives gets to choose the music. That's seems fair enough.

And since I refuse to drive in nightmarish metro-areas such as Atlanta, Houston, Washington DC, etc. this means that I am subjected to continuous, ear-bleeding rounds of Stiff Little Fingers, Dinosaur Jr, Social Distortion, The Clash, etc. (What? Did you say something?) Mr. Daisy likes to punctuate blasts of The Clash with Elijah Wood's addled statement in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as he memorably jumped up and down on the bed while smoking dope with Kirsten Dunst: The Clash, the only band that mattered! They called themselves that for a reason!

I find Atlanta traffic terrifying. My driving-panic-threshold seems to be cities the size of Austin, Columbus, Cleveland, Baton Rouge, St Augustine, where I can drive fairly decently. Atlanta? Not on your life. Or mine!

And so, I invariably arrive half-deafened at my in-laws. I hope they don't take this personally and think I am not listening.

This year, I handed my mother-in-law a fancy gourmet cinnamon crumb cake, and she deadpanned, "I hope you brought your own water. Don't need CAKE, need WATER."

Indeed, we had just passed Lake Hartwell, which is usually quite majestic, blue and beautiful in the sun. (From the air, it looks like a large and lovely blue flower imprinted on the earth.) Not today. The drought is so severe, an ugly brown island was poking up out of the lake, that I didn't even know was there. The coast of the lake is lined in dried reddish Georgia clay. What's happened to the water? What the hell is going on? Georgia politicians are threatening to take water from South Carolina, which as you might imagine, is not going over so well around here.

The real estate pimps at Lake Hartwell, eager to contain the damage, are assuring everyone everything is A-OK, and arranging the Lake webcams (see left) to minimize any appearance of drought. Everything is fine! Getcher lakefront property here! Everything IS FINE FINE FINE.

Obviously not. The Army Corps of Engineers informs us that yes, lake levels are very low:
Extreme drought conditions have persisted across much of Georgia with moderate to severe drought conditions over most of the Savannah Basin. Over the past 30 days, precipitation has averaged less than 30% of normal for this time of year in the Upper Savannah Basin. As a result, the soil is very dry which reduces the amount of runoff and inflow from tributaries after rain events. Additionally, low soil moisture reduces the amount of water available for evapotranspiration that causes cloud formation for afternoon thunderstorms this time of year. Current long term forecasts from the National Weather Service do not indicate a change in the current dry pattern over the next 90 days.

The updated Savannah District Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) took effect on September 30th, 2006. The DCP includes the operational rules for the reservoirs as drought conditions develop. This plan was developed with extensive stakeholder input and seeks to balance the needs for water resources during times of shortages.

Drought Level 1 was triggered at the end of June 2007 resulting in a flow reduction to a maximum weekly average release of 4200cfs at Thurmond Dam. Drought Level 2 was triggered in mid-August 2007 resulting in a flow reduction to a maximum weekly average release of 4000cfs at Thurmond Dam. Additionally, as of Tuesday, October 23, 2007, after gaining agreement from other federal and state stakeholder agencies, the minimum daily discharge from Lake Thurmond has been temporarily reduced from 3800 to back to 3600 cubic feet per second. These flow reductions at Thurmond cause flow reductions at Hartwell that are necessary to keep the pools near balance. The Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA) is purchasing replacement energy from other sources to cover the reduced hydropower generation from the DCP implementation.
And in Atlanta, emergency measures have been utilized for some time now, hence, my mother-in-law's joke:
An unprecedented drought stretching across the southeastern United States has forced some of the region's largest cities to declare water emergencies.

The situation has become so serious that officials in Atlanta, where rainfall totals are more than 16 inches below normal, said they could run out of drinking water in a matter of weeks.

"Without any intervention, we are likely to run out of water in three months," said Carol Couch, the director of the Environmental Protection Division in Georgia.

The drought has been sucking the city and its water sources dry.

"We have actually classified it as an exceptional drought," said David Stooksbury, a climatologist at Georgia State. "Basically [it is] the type of drought that we expect to see about once in 100 years."

Most of Atlanta's water supply comes from two lakes. Lake Lanier is the main source, but the drought has affected it.

The city's second source for water is Lake Allatoona, which should be about 16 feet higher than it currently is and continues losing a foot a week. Docks used for boats sit high and dry, hundreds of feet from the water's edge.

At the heart of the drought drama is the question of how state and federal officials ration the shrinking water supply.

Georgia officials have threatened legal action if the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers does not drastically cut the amount of water it releases from state lakes for agricultural and industrial use. Much of that released water ends up in Florida and Alabama, where officials are likely to oppose any additional decrease in the flow of water. Florida officials say low water levels already threaten the survival of endangered river mussels.

The corps already came under fire when it accidentally released 22 billion extra gallons of water from Lake Lanier last June, just as the region was sinking into a deep drought.

The dry weather has caused the state governors in the region to request that residents cut back on their water usage.

In the Atlanta area, while the conservation measures inside the home are still voluntary, the entire state is under a mandatory outdoor watering ban.
Read the rest of the story, from ABC news. The situation is so dire, water thefts have begun.

And so, the horrible consequences of global warming continue to manifest. And all while various Republicans and conservative wackos refuse to believe global warming is real.

How about those global-warming-skeptics start bringing THEIR own water?

Frequent updates: Atlanta Water Shortage

Listening to: Lou Reed - Berlin
via FoxyTunes


Kilroy_60 said...

Flying into Atlanta and cabbing worked out best for me. Having driving in the nightmare cities you mentioned I understand your position; it's enough to justify senseless violence.

Love the theme of the blog!

Looking forward to see you at the Villagers go...Gonzo! Carnival...

Bryce said...

yeah D - Keowee and Jocassee are similarly fucked up right now. i really hate to see this.

misscripchick said...

eek. with so much happening it still amazes me that so many people don't believe in global warming!

Anonymous said...

I think we have about 60 odd days of drinking water left in Durham, NC right now. Over T-day we were all planning on how to get water to gravity flush out toilets (there are two very small streams running through our neighborhood - which of course ultimately feed into the drinking water of an entirely different county). We aren't as bad as Georgia, we're only at -8" of rain. Hah!

Q Grrl

DBB said...

I think I'd rather have my eyeballs scraped out of my sockets with dull spoons than ever drive through Atlanta again.