I was skimming through US News and World Report while eating lunch and came upon an article that was worth reading, not just skimming. It was discussing the desperate situation in the American South, where the drought conditions are getting such that Atlanta might run out of drinking water by January. They say it’s the worst drought the area has seen in 100 years.

Of course, as so many of our “natural” disasters are these days, this drought has been worsened by men — more specifically, by stubborn environmentalists and governmental agencies unwilling to think outside the policy box.

A central focus of the drought dilemma is Lake Lanier. US News and World Report explains: “The extent of the water crisis, details of which have only recently become public, is frightening in its breadth. Lake Lanier, in northern Georgia, is the main source of water for parts of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, including more than 3 million residents in metropolitan Atlanta. As of last week it was down 15 feet, a near record, and dropping at a rate of 5 feet per month. . . . Authorities say that Lake Lanier could exhaust its regular storage in 100 days or less.”

It just so happens that Lake Lanier is not only dropping due to lack of rain, but because the Army Corps of Engineers has been draining it! Makes sense during a drought, eh?

“For the past four months, the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the reservoir at Lake Lanier, has been releasing lake water at a faster rate than it is refilling it. The corps says it has had no choice. Three species of aquatic life—the fat threeridge mussel and two others, the purple bankclimber mussel and the gulf sturgeon, a prehistoric fish—live in the waters that are fed by Lake Lanier, and their habitats are protected by the Endangered Species Act. In part to ensure its compliance with the law, the corps last year mandated a minimum flow of water through the protected habitats. . . . In addition, the corps says it must continue to send water down the Chattahoochee River to replenish the reservoirs in southern Georgia and to operate a nuclear power plant in Dothan, Alabama.”

Are you serious? We’re worried about the levels of a lake that supplies water to people, we’re calculating how much it’s dropping per month because people’s drinking water accessibility depends on it… and the Army is draining the darn thing? To protect something named “fat threeridge”!?!?

“‘We can only make decisions within the confines of law and policy,’ says Corps of Engineers Maj. Daren Payne.” We have little blinders on and refuse to think logically. I’m sorry, that’s not within policy. I don’t care if it’s common sense. It’s not policy.

Okay, for a second, I’ll attempt to forget about the citizens of Atlanta. Let’s argue on the level of their mind capacity: What’s going to happen to the mussels when there’s no more water to release?! The poor mussels!

“Seeking a change in policy, Carol Couch and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue asked the corps for a compromise: an immediate but temporary reduction in the flow from Lanier. Last week, the corps responded by denying the state’s request.”

This is ridiculous. The “local water police” is out fining people up to $500 for misuse of the precious liquid, and the Corps continues to drain the lake because of some stupid mollusk. Why can’t the state decide what they want to do with their own lake, anyway? If the governor of a state, looking out for the health and well-being of his citizens, asks a federal agency to stop doing something idiotic to a lake in his state, why should he be denied?

Kudos to US News for presenting this side of the story.

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