Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The glass won't even be half full

The Georgia Water Coalition released a list of the state's 12 dirtiest or threatened rivers over the weekend, and my little community has the embarrassing distinction of being on it (at number 6) due to the foolish pursuit of a coal fired power plant that will suck 16 million gallons of water a day out of either the Oconee River (which is always critically low), or 15 wells in the recharge area of the Ogeechee River. Now home owners and farmers will have to compete with a coal plant for sufficient water for daily use.

Wondering what the Oconee looks like during a stage 4 drought? You could walk across it and not get your feet wet (photo from the state of Georgia, 2007). Since Plant Washington was announced in January 2008, the developers, Power4Georgians, have admitted that the river levels were too low to supply the plant during one summer and they would have relied entirely on the ground water supplies.

Let me make this clear: I know and love many good people in Atlanta and other metropolitan cities in Georgia who have serious water shortage issues. I know they need water for their families and communities just like the rural folks do.

The difference is, when the only source of water you have for your home or farm is a well, you treat it with incredible respect and conservation. Losing your water trumps everything else on your day's agenda. The solution isn't as easy as calling the city utility department and finding out that it is something simple like flushing the lines. Not having water demands immediate attention, and it can also mean considerable costs.

The people who depend on wells in the area around the proposed plant site understand better than anyone else that the threat to our wells is real. If we lose our water permanently due to the draw down (and a USGS  staffer with no skin in the game said it will happen sooner rather than later if the plant is built), everything we have invested in our homes and farms will be dried up, literally.

Even if there was a work around for the water that has sustained families here for hundred of years, P4G hasn't stood behind their promises in writing to make sure we have water if the plant impacts us. That confirms what we have known all along: our water supplies can't sustain the additional demand of 16 million gallons per day from the Oconee or local wells. Period.  


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