Come On, Shirley . . .

So, there was a blurb on one of the local news channels last night, featuring Mayor Shirley Franklin talking about the water problem in Atlanta. She admitted that it was a problem due to lack of planning, and due to not being prepared for “climate change.”

Okay, I know that she inherited a clusterfuck of monumental proportion here in Atlanta, but “climate change?” Come on, Shirley. This is complete and total lack of planning. Period. I am no climatologist or scientist of any sort, but I know that if there is a climate change, it is probably being experienced all over the country, not just in the Southeast. I don’t see other major American cities running out of drinking water in the next year. Atlanta did not prepare for a drought situation. We did not plan ahead to accommodate the water needs of all of the new construction that has taken place here in the last thirty years.

Chalking this up to the bogeyman of global warming is a crock, Shirley. I’m not saying that climate change isn’t a real and serious threat; What I am saying is that our dire water situation may not have been due to your personal lack of planning, but the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia could have been more prepared.

17 Comments so far

  1. tiffany (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 10:12 am

    agreed that this has a lot to do with planning, but we can’t discount climate change entirely.

    i’m guessing you missed this NY Times article from sunday about water in the american west: http://tinyurl.com/2y3fp3

    from the first paragraph:

    “Scientists sometimes refer to the effect a hotter world will have on this country’s fresh water as the other water problem, because global warming more commonly evokes the specter of rising oceans submerging our great coastal cities. By comparison, the steady decrease in mountain snowpack — the loss of the deep accumulation of high-altitude winter snow that melts each spring to provide the American West with most of its water — seems to be a more modest worry. But not all researchers agree with this ranking of dangers.”


  2. dreish (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 10:19 am

    This has been quite a historic drought, but it seems a little absurd to me that a city can’t get by on 25 inches of water in a year, after being inundated with 39 inches in 2006. This seems like a problem that must have a solution.


  3. anon (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 10:34 am

    Did you hear this on NPR yesterday?
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15528721

    Good ol’ Sonny says it’s because of the animals. When asked about poor planning and procrastination? Oh no, the stupid mussels.


  4. abby (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 10:41 am

    There are a lot of issues at work in this drought situation, but I think Annie’s point is that Atlanta has been the single fastest-growing metro area in the country since 2000. From 2000-2005 we added 900,000 people, and the city/state/fed governments didn’t change any approach to water management.


  5. Annie (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 10:45 am

    Actually, Tiffany, I did read that article. I’m not discounting climate change as an actual occurrence, just as the reason for Atlanta’s water problem. This is a planning issue. Metro Atlanta has built and built and built and not bothered to put in the needed water planning to support that growth.


  6. Annie (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 10:52 am

    Well, I think the planning is a problem first and foremost, but I also agree that if it comes to my kids having drinking water, or saving a mussel population, I know which one I vote gets the water.


  7. Annie (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 10:55 am

    Exactly, Abby. Metro Atlanta officials have been basking in the $ that this growth brings in, without reinvesting it in the future.


  8. Chintan (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 11:59 am

    A few things:

    ‘This has been quite a historic drought, but it seems a little absurd to me that a city can’t get by on 25 inches of water in a year, after being inundated with 39 inches in 2006. This seems like a problem that must have a solution.”

    Atlanta’s average rainfall is about 50″. 25 is half. 39 is a bit lest than 80%. So in the last two years, we’re about 64% of where we ought to be.

    “I am no climatologist or scientist of any sort, but I know that if there is a climate change, it is probably being experienced all over the country, not just in the Southeast.I don’t see other major American cities running out of drinking water in the next year. Atlanta did not prepare for a drought situation.”

    The climate is an almost impenetrably complex machine fed by solar energy. Indeed, climate models, crude as they are, suggest that some areas will experience more, prolonged periods of drought, while others will experience more, prolonged wet weather. It doesn’t follow that the entire US would be dry because of climate change.

    “We did not plan ahead to accommodate the water needs of all of the new construction that has taken place here in the last thirty years.”

    Well, yes. We didn’t plan ahead. But, of course, that’s our own damn fault. We continue to elect state representatives who are shills for the real estate development industry. We continue to rail for “property rights” and against “government regulation.” People lose elections because they want to have the government regulate stuff like this.

    If we want to blame somebody, we should find the nearest mirror.

    As for the oysters (I had thought some of it was because of oysters in Apalachicola Bay) or mussels or whatever — I tend to think they should get whatever water they need to survive. Allowing a part of the ecosystem to fail could have significant unintended consequences. Humans can buy bottled water. Shellfish can’t. Anyway, as we all know, it’s our own damn fault. No reason the clams (or scallops or whatever) ought to suffer.


  9. Jay (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 4:53 pm

    I hate to pick nits, but as an intown (City of Atlanta?) resident, I’d think you’d be more aware than to place the blame all on the City of Atlanta. I’m used to the suburbanites blaming or equating anything bad in the metropolitan Atlanta region with the City of Atlanta and then claiming anything good as being Alpharetta, Roswell, Cobb or Gwinnett. The fact is, until just the last few years where the City of Atlanta has experienced actual growth, the explosive, uncontrolled growth happened in those aforementioned suburbs. Perhaps if multiple county and city jurisdictions in the region had actually exercised a little restraint and control over planning and development, things wouldn’t be in such dire shape.

    Also, please be aware that the Georgia-Alabama-Florida water war over the Chattahoochee is not new nor even drought-driven; it is a long-running battle over how much water each of the states is entitled to.


  10. Rashid Z. Muhammad (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 10:58 pm

    I wouldn’t trust a news broadcast to give a fair assessment of what the Mayor said. I agree that blaming climate change is pretty lame but lack of planning is by no means unique to Atlanta and, even if it were, Franklin’s administration’s planning is only responsible for 500K or so people in the 5.5 million strong metro area. There is plenty of blame to spread around to areas that were not handcuffed by the legacy of the Campbell administration.

    Furthermore, much of the intown growth has been stimulated by aggressive tax abatement plans that have a large number of the city’s new inhabitants living tax-free. Only in the last two or three years have these abatements begun to wear off.

    I can dig being cynical, but I think there are bigger fish to fry here.


  11. james (unregistered) on October 24th, 2007 @ 9:57 am

    the lieutenant governor of california was on cnn last night blaming california’s wildfires on climate change.

    it’s an awesome excuse for EVERYTHING bad…..


  12. d.ortiz (unregistered) on October 24th, 2007 @ 1:19 pm

    YES! Why didn’t Shirley listen to us when we marched in the streets by the millions these past ten years clamoring for better water use planning? WHY? WHY? WHY?

    This was a HUGE issue in the last five mayoral elections, but the politicians, they just ignored the public concern. Tsk tsk. When will they ever learn?


  13. dreish (unregistered) on October 24th, 2007 @ 1:21 pm

    My point about how much rain north Georgia gets is that this is still more than other parts of the country that are as densely populated as the southeast. I’m not denying that we’re in an extreme drought, that we appear to be close to running out of water, or that the climate is in the midst of rapid long-term changes due to human activity.

    it looks to me as though the region is lazily capturing only a small portion of available water, because that has been all it has needed until recently.

    And just because California’s Lt. Governor blamed it for wildfires, which are more due to poor foresight in the last century of forest management than anything else, doesn’t mean climate change isn’t a real phenomenon creating real problems — changes in rainfall patterns among them — that a lot of people are going to have to deal with in the coming decades.


  14. Rashid Z. Muhammad (unregistered) on October 25th, 2007 @ 9:25 am

    Wow my comment was seriously redundant, sorry.

    Anyhow, California has be burning for ages (there is a reason that they actually have a wildfire season). I see another New Orleans here. Building multi-million dollar homes / communities in areas where they are prone to become firewood just doesn’t come off to me as being too bright.

    Then again, I guess it’s VERY bright right now eh?


  15. Annie (unregistered) on October 25th, 2007 @ 9:39 am

    I’d like to reiterate that I wasn’t just slamming Shirley Franklin, or the city planners; I did mention all of this in regards to “metro Atlanta” growth and even state of GA lack of planning.

    Anyway, lots of great comments!


  16. abby (unregistered) on October 25th, 2007 @ 9:47 am

    ahh hahaha Rashid made me laugh aloud. Awful!!


  17. Mike (unregistered) on October 25th, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

    I was furious at shirley for blaming a “drought” on “climate shift” I totally agree with Annie. BUT then to also hear we didnt prepare for the amount of people that are moving to Atlanta????? Is no one taking a Census of Atlanta. Hey Shirley to update you I googled population of Atlanta to help you out. Here is what I found on wikipedia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta,_Georgia
    Direct quote from wiki:
    “Between 2000 and 2006, the Atlanta metropolitan area grew 20.5%”

    Now that I did her job she can start planning. I saw that video on CNN yesterday and I couldnt believe that she went on the air and said what she said. Say instead, “We didnt plan for a severe drought because Atlanta has a lot of issues that we are working on and drought was low on the priortity list”. Those 2 statements about the drought make her sound incompetent.

    Mike



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