Georgia’s argument is this: In 1818, when surveyors drew the line between the two states, they put it too far south. The line should be about a mile further north and if it were, Georgia would have access to the Tennessee River. In return, Tennessee would get about 60 square miles that currently is considered part of Georgia, which the Peach State is happy to give if it can get Tennessee River water for sprawling and thirsty North Atlanta.
To accomplish this the Georgia House recently passed a bill that would give Tennessee and Georgia officials a year to reach an agreement and if none was forthcoming, the Georgia attorney general would take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where state boundary disputes generally go.
Tennessee residents who would become Georgians are not particularly happy with the prospect of paying that state’s personal income tax or with all the hassle that the change would bring. Tennessee lawmakers are not enthusiastic about helping Georgia solve a problem of its own creation. Tennessee State Rep. Billy Spivey, who would lose part of his district to Georgia, observed that “if I didn’t have water in my yard, I wouldn’t plant a garden.” He and many others feel that Georgia needs to control its growth and cut back on water use. “If our neighbors to the south were already thick-tongued and dying of thirst,” Spivey added, he would be more sympathetic. They aren’t and he isn’t.
Meanwhile, Alabama should not be too complacent watching Georgia’s second front develop. Rest assured Georgians have not forgotten us. This new effort should only remind us that our eastern neighbors are expecting someone else to rescue them from the situation in which they find themselves. It is Tennessee this time. Next time it could be us, again.