Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interbasin Water Transfer

Water shortages in Georgia are not a new problem. The 2008 drought and recent court decisions have again highlighted the need for increased planning on how to meet the state’s freshwater needs. Recently, state officials have again broached the possibility of interbasin water transfers from the Tennessee River, a topic that always attracts the interest of Chattanooga media and residents.

Interbasin water transfers involve moving water from one watershed into another to meet resource demands from residents or industry. In this situation, water would be taken from the Tennessee River and transferred to users in other watersheds in northern Georgia. The water, once used, would then be discharged in Georgia’s rivers, resulting in a loss of Tennessee River water downstream of the transfer site. Returning the water to its source river isn’t feasible.

Besides being costly, interbasin transfers are not sustainable solutions. They rely upon natural resources from outside the watershed for continued growth, creating heavy environmental costs. For example, interbasin water transfers increase the spread of exotic species and can impact the amount of downstream flow that is critical for many imperiled species. For these reasons, we strongly support community investment in water conservation initiatives as the most important step in tackling water shortages.

Dr. Anna George, TNACI Director

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