Praying for a rainy night in Georgia, and soon

(Update: The blog Atlanta Water Shortage seems to have closed its doors. The url is now occupied by the web host and domain name sleazebags at

This just in from our generally reliable Atlanta source: Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue cover1-1_50.jpghas declared a state of emergency due to the alarmingly persistent statewide drought. Georgians are waking up to the fact that they are running out of water and that the weather isn’t poised to perform a last-second rescue–meteorologists predict an unusually dry winter. For an ongoing source of clear-headed updates on the drought, visit the aptly-named blog, Atlanta Water Shortage.

Read this page of archived news stories beginning early this year that tracks Georgia’s slow awakening to the hard dry facts. Ain’t it funny how water drains away? Especially when it’s obvious that there is an unusually tenacious drought and everyone completely ignores it.

What would an unquestionably professional news outlet–say, Fox News–do in this situation? Why, march down southern-vintageladywpinkroses1.jpgSouth quicker than Sherman and get the point of view of the average Georgian–the crucial human angle with a touch of down-home wisdom that is most convincingly delivered with a southern accent.

Not wishing to be regarded as any less professional than the fab Faux, we sent our top investigative reporter to visit the très southern Southern Lady’s Vintage (caveat: The site’s deep-south ambience is enhanced with music that you can’t turn off.) to get the proprietor’s take on the situation.

Good call! Turns out that Barbara (her About Me gives no last name, but does inform us that she’s from the Sweet South, Georgia and that’s all the bona fides we need) is so concerned that she took time off from posting many seasonal pictures of punkins and way many of her extremely cute grandson, to entreat her readers to pray for the end of the drought! Hey, God, get ‘er done!

Adopting the courtly deference of a southern gentleman, makes way for a lady. Barbara on the drought:

Georgia is in a level 4 state of emergency due to it’s ongoing drought. Currently 85 of our northern counties are in a state of disaster. All exterior watering in North Georgia is banned. Restaurants are asked to only serve water to customers who ask for water. Extreme rationing will most likely be on the horizon. Many businesses are already affected by our lack of water. Our lakes are drying up and the authorities are saying that we have less than a three months supply of water in our Lake Lanier (emphasis–and punctuation–Barbara’s).

Lake Lanier is a crucially important reservoir, but federal law requires that much of its water be released to Florida lake_lanier_satellite_map.jpgso that it can feed the Apalachicola Bay, which water expert Cynthia Barnett (see below) describes as “the last unspoiled bay in Florida.”

The bay remains pristine not because of high-minded environmental concerns on the part of Floridians–don’t make us snort tap water out of our noses–but because it is the home of a thriving shellfish industry. A continued flow of freshwater dilutes the seawater, keeping ocean-based predators out of the bay and guaranteeing that their prey will be served in the restaurants and homes of land-based predators.

What, we asked Barbara–with that wheedling, high-pitched urgency practiced by actors posing as concerned journalists on television–can people do to help? Says Barbara:

I am again asking that you please remember to pray for God’s intervention and for God’s blessings on our state to help us avoid running out of water. Not only do we need rain, but please also pray that God gives our authorities the wisdom needed to guide us thru this drought (emphasis ours this time).

0472115634.jpgWhoooaaa, Barbara, nice thought, but that last one is a toughie, even for God, if you’re defining wisdom as enlightened knowledge. You see, your authorities already have their own brand of wisdom–let’s call it unenlightened self-interest–which tells them that the best way for them and their developer buddies to get even richer than they already are is to avoid doing anything until the problem gets so serious that they can’t ignore it anymore. And then they sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who, bless their incompetent little hearts, are just doing their job.

Hey, you might as well pray. You might as well do a goddamn rain dance–or precipitation rite, as we prefer over here at the scientifically-inclined–and you might as well attribute any eventual water falling from the sky to your superstitious supplications. The gods help those who help themselves, drawls, and until the South–particularly Georgia and the criminally wasteful state of Florida–starts responsibly addressing the problem of too-little-water-for-too-many-sweet-Southerners by passing stringent conservation laws and imposing limits on growth, it faces inevitable disaster.

At this moment, our minds turn, without a hint of ironic sarcasm, to Barbara’s grandson, who aside from being cuter than a water bug’s ear, happens to be a resident of Georgia. It’s his water, too.

To understand how one of the soggiest places on the continent can suddenly find itself running out of water, we suggest that you buy and–here’s the important part–read, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S., by Cynthia Barnett, a real investigative reporter. The title, as titles do these days, says it all. The focus is on Floridian water follies which take place in the context of a full frontal assault on the environment waged by the entire Southeast.
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