Rain is What the Thunder Brings

Let’s hear it for divine intervention. What I find amusing is the title of the AJC piece, “Georgia’s water crisis: God can make it rain tomorrow.” The article was published yesterday. It’s raining heavily right now.

What I find less than amusing is some of the reaction to Sonny’s little show. Frankly, some of it has me pretty steamed.

Predictably, some are bashing Southerners for it. In their view, we are inbred toothless idiots fit only to cast in movies like “Deliverance” so therefore we deserve what we get. Sigh. We are the world’s favorite punch line, after all. There’s really no use bemoaning it; until the rest of the world gets over their bigotry towards Southerners, we’re just going to have to suffer. But it does piss me off dearly.

Some see the drought as further proof of global warming. And they say we deserve it because we live in a red state (and therefore elected Bush who hasn’t pushed the global warming agenda as far as some would like).

Some see the drought and subsequent water crisis as fitting justice for metro-Atlanta’s rampant growth and lack of planning. Look, in a former life I worked as a water resource engineer; I mainly worked with municipals, state agencies and federal agencies in the bridge design process for sites all over Georgia. So I know a little bit about getting public works projects designed and built. It takes years to plan, design, and build water storage systems like Lake Allatoona or Lake Lanier. Cobb County has had one such lake in the works since 2000. You have to get through local opposition, municipal opposition, environmental opposition, ecological opposition, political opposition, federal opposition, and pure NIMBY hysteria-induced opposition. That’s a lot of opposition to get through. For small projects that don’t make the news, opposition can be mitigated. For large news-worthy projects, opposition can shut the entire project down.

Let’s take the Northern Arc for example. The Northern Arc was to be a multi-lane, high volume highway paralleling I-285 in the northern suburbs of metro-Atlanta. It had been in the planning stages for years at GDOT. Metro-Atlanta has been growing, particularly in the northern suburbs, since the late 1980s. In many ways, the local municipals were caught with their pants down; they simply weren’t prepared or able to pay for the needed traffic improvements resulting from the population explosion. So GDOT offered the Northern Arc as one solution. It was mired for years in opposition, political maneuvering, bad press, cronyism, and nepotism before GDOT officially killed the entire project. (Interesting 2-year old rumor from a reliable, somewhat close source: GDOT still plans on building parts of the Northern Arc. They’re just not going to call it the “Northern Arc.” The pieces of the roadway built will have the same general plan/locations as before. They just won’t be connected. How a disconnected east-west highway is supposed help congestion, I don’t know.)

Anyway, public works projects are like that. They take forever to build if they get built at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if we suddenly hear about a habitat of some sort that should be protected on the lake’s project area. Ecological problems turn up all the time, especially on large, politically-charged projects.

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