A Border Battle Brews -- And Water Is The Prize

The seemingly endless drought in the Southeast has caused tension in bordering states and now the water wars literally have a battle line.

The Tennessee River has become the focus of a border skirmish between Georgia and Tennessee. Georgia lawmakers believe part of the river actually belongs to their state, but Tennessee residents strongly disagree and vow to protect their boundaries.

"I think this is pure desperation," said Tennessee State Sen. Andy Berke.

When Congress created the river in 1796, it set the 35th parallel as the border. In 1818 the border line was surveyed about a mile south after forest fires and Native Americans scared off surveyors.

Now Georgia lawmakers want to push it back 1.1 miles, which would send millions of gallons of water to Atlanta and other parts of the arid state. Since last summer Georgia has been desperate for water and its governor even went so far as to pray for rain.

Atlanta's water reserve, Lake Lanier, has been down several feet from its desired depth and times have only gotten more desperate as the drought has strengthened its grip.

"It's never too late to right a wrong," Georgia State Sen. David Shafer told the Associated Press. His bill would create a boundary line commission that aims to resolve the dispute.

Along with increased water flow, moving the border would give Georgia a chuck of Chattanooga, Mississippi and a slice of Memphis, according to the AP.

But Tennessee lawmakers aren't giving an inch -- or a drop -- of their river.

"My first thought was I'd offer to settle this over a game of college football, but that would be unfair to the citizen of Georgia," Berke said.

Tennessee residents like Nickie Summer said the desire to push the border is nothing more than a thirsty state's pipe dream.

"If they had a problem, they would have solved it way back there a hundred years ago or something," said Summer, who has lived in Tennessee his entire life. "They gotta be outta their minds."

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