Georgians Dream of Tapping Tennessee to End Water Woes
By: Greg Bluestein and Melissa Abbey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

COLE CITY HOLLOW, Tenn. — COLE CITY HOLLOW, Tenn. — On a rainy day, the grassy patch of land just across Georgia’s northwest border is muddy and forlorn. No one lives here, but there are people: about 85 of them, buried in State Line Cemetery.

But the 1.5-square-mile piece of Tennessee gleams in the eyes of some Georgia legislators. They say it holds the key to ending metro Atlanta’s water woes, maybe forever.

The Georgia House recently initiated its latest attempt to claim disputed territory at the border that, if shifted to Georgia, would give the state access to the mighty Tennessee River. This time, they’ve reduced Georgia’s demand to just a slice big enough to run a pipeline to the river, dropping earlier claims on a larger swath.

Skeptics say it’s a time-wasting fantasy. Tennessee over the years has scoffed at Georgia claims to river access, based on centuries-old surveying mistakes. Still, backers of the latest gambit — passed as a resolution in the House, and by a Senate committee on Wednesday — believe it could help set the stage for a successful legal battle to make the claim stick.

“My thought is we’re getting to the same result one way or another - either through Supreme Court litigation or from a compromise,” said Brad Carver, a water rights attorney and lobbyist who helped draft the plan. “Litigation should always be the last resort, but if Tennessee rejects this, Georgia may have no other choice but to sue them in Supreme Court.”