on March 30, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

States battle over water

CLEMSON – South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia are jostling for the diminishing reservoirs of the Catawba and Savannah Rivers. The fact each state’s needs are growing rapidly adds to the drama. On April 5, the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) will host a Water Forum in an attempt to help sort out the situation.

“We’re trying to avoid ‘water wars’ with our neighboring states,” said CURI restoration ecology director Gene Eidson. “Everyone is vying and positioning themselves for water. Who has the rights? Of key concern is how do we meet everyone’s needs. It’s a very big issue. There are all kinds of stakeholders becoming very protective of their water supplies, from individuals to local communities to regional water authorities.”

Water resources are critical for economic development. Sufficient water sources are necessary for industrial, residential and recreational needs. In the Upstate, lower lake levels are a concern because a portion of the area’s economy is based on full-pool lakes.

The CURI forum will establish the interdisciplinary collaboration needed to address the state’s pressing water issues. Of course, that confederacy involves engineers, scientists and geologists. But because of the issues wide impact, economists and sociologists must also be consulted. Both Gov. Mark Sanford and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue have formed water panels dedicated to working with the other states’ experts.

“You don’t want to get into a bunch of lawsuits,” Eidson said. “Those drag on for years.”

South Carolina and North Carolina both draw from the Catawba River Basin. Georgia joins the Carolinas in sharing the Savannah River’s supply. Usage includes both withdrawal and waste load demands.

“According to the EPA, we’ve reached capacity with the Savannah,” Eidson said. “In the past, the coast relied heavily on ground water from the Upper Floridan Aquifer. Now because of saliency issues, they’ve turned to surface supply.”

Atlanta’s ravenous appetite for water is an emerging scenario for the Savannah River Basin. As the metropolis’ water needs grow, Eidson said the Savannah supply is becoming a possibility to meet those requirements. The CURI director believes such a situation would directly impact the Upstate. Shortage and drought issues would directly contribute to ecology problems.

Cross state cooperation is just part of the solution. Individuals must also help to diffuse the eminent water dilemma.

“We’re asking people to conserve water like they never have before,” Eidson said.

“But it’s not going to be easy. We’re talking about shifting social paradigms we’ve existed under for many years.”

Consumer conservation tactics include low-flow toilets, watering lawns less and turning the faucet off while washing dishes or brushing teeth. Industries will be called upon to regularly survey their water systems to safeguard against massive leaks.

Municipalities must also review their water systems. However, cities and towns have helped put an economic value on water by charging one rate for ‘X’ amount of gallons and a higher per gallon rate for consumption that exceeds that amount.

“All these issues require adapted management,” Eidson said. “All of the shareholders need to share the responsibilities and the burden of allocation. If there’s a drought, they all must share in the pain.”

The CURI Water Forum will be held April 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Hendrix Student Ballroom. For more information, call (864) 656-2619.