Georgia Farmers to Atlanta: Stop Hogging Water
As drought worsens, so do rural-city tensions over things like toilets, lawns
Crops or lawns?
In a recent editorial, Valdosta Daily Times lashed out at Atlanta, accusing it of hogging water while farmers watch their crops burn in the fields.
Atlanta politicians, the newspaper said, "can't bring themselves to tell their greedy constituents complaining about the low flows in their toilets this week that perhaps if they didn't have six bathrooms, it might ease the situation a bit. That watering your lawn isn't as important as watering crops. Or that their greedy overbuilding has taxed their supplies of natural resources beyond their capabilities."Between 1990 and 2000, Atlanta added more than 1 million people and its water use climbed 30 percent to about 420 million gallons a day. Now metropolitan Atlanta boasts roughly 5 million people and projects more than 2 million more by 2030, when water could climb past 700 million gallons a day.
In rural southwest Georgia, the biggest city, Albany, has about 160,000 people in the metro area. The region helps make Georgia the No. 1 peanut state.
Farmers have tilled the fields here for generations, but water use spiked in the 1970s with the rise of new irrigation technologies such as center pivots and underwater pumps. The farmers now rely on thousands and thousands of wells that tap into a huge aquifer fed by the streams that crisscross the region.
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