Water Woes of Texas and Georgia
Government officials in Texas like to encourage residents of other states to move to Texas, and their efforts have paid off. ABC News reports, “About 1,000 people arrive in Texas each day, drawn by jobs, newly built homes and other opportunities.”
However, all is not well in Texas as ABC News also reports: “But in a state where prolonged drought is a regular occurrence, officials are struggling to ensure they can sate everyone’s thirst.”
The quest for potable water can make people do foolish things. For example, earlier this century, the Tarrant Regional Water District in Texas spent $6 million on a lawsuit in an attempt to gain water located entirely within Oklahoma by crossing the Oklahoma-Texas border. In the case of Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann et al., 569 U.S. 614 (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the Tarrant Regional Water District. In its ruling, the Court states, “Tarrant offers no evidence that in the present day Texas cannot access its 25 percent share on its own land.”
That 25% share refers to the water that Texas is entitled to through the Red River Compact. Nothing was stopping the Tarrant Regional Water District from using that water. Tarrant officials simply didn’t want to pay to have that water made potable.
Meanwhile, the state of Georgia has its own water woes, as Nashville TV station WZTV reported on 14 May 2019:
“Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has vetoed a bill seeking to ultimately claim land and a portion of the Tennessee River in the state of Tennessee. Georgia lawmakers earlier this year again passed a bill seeking to claim land in Tennessee they believe belongs to their state. . . While some might ask why it’s such a big deal, it’s because of water. If Georgia were to extend it’s current border, the state would have access to the Tennessee River and the potential for 500 million gallons of water delivered each day to northern Georgia and Atlanta.”
Adding to Georgia’s water woes is an ongoing federal lawsuit that the state of Florida filed against the state of Georgia. In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to dismiss the case. Instead, the Court remanded the case to the Special Master whom the Court appointed to handle the case.
In Florida v. Georgia, On Exceptions To Report Of Special Master, the Court states the following about the Special Master’s earlier report to the Court:
“. . . the Master acknowledged that ‘Florida points to real harm and, at the very least, likely misuse of resources by Georgia.’ Id., at 31 (emphasis added). And the Report ‘provide[s] the Court a brief descriptive background regarding . . . the unreasonableness of Georgia’s consumptive water use.’ Ibid.; see, e.g., id., at 32 (‘Georgia’s upstream agricultural water use has been — and continues to be — largely unrestrained’); id., at 33 (‘Despite early warnings of oncoming drought, Georgi[a] . . . chose not to declare a drought in 2011 — apparently hoping for the best, and clearly not wishing to incur the cost of preventative action’); id., at 34 (‘Georgia’s position — practically, politically, and legally — can be summarized as follows: Georgia’s agricultural water use should be subject to no limitations, regardless of the long-term consequences for the Basin’).”
How the water woes in Texas and Georgia are remedied remains to be seen. However, one can be certain that government officials in those states will attempt remedies that benefit their careers.