Droughts = more reservoir money in Georgia, but maybe not this time



When a drought like the one Georgia is experiencing this year hits, politicians typically turn to a tried and true formula: propose spending tens of millions of dollars on new reservoirs.

But relatively few have been built because they take years to plan and permit, and years more to build.

In some cases, communites abandon their plans and wind up thinking they’ve wasted taxpayer money, and that the only people who benefited are the consultants who sold them on a reservoir in the first place.

That’s essentially what officials say happened in Newton County, where the county commission last fall voted to stop work on a planned reservoir after spending 15 years and more than $20 million.

While a reservoir is under construction in Paulding County, state politicians aren’t quickly jumping on the reservoir bandwagon this year, despite an earth-scorching drought. Some, like Georgia House Natural Resources Chairwoman Lynn Smith, R-Newnan, said the water management plan the state adopted during the 2007-2009 drought stressed conservation practices that in many ways have better served Georgians in the short term.

“The crisis we had in the first decade of this century prepared us, and we’re in a lot better position now than we ever were,” Smith said.

You can read more about the state’s history of spending big on reservoirs, and what Georgia officials are doing now to possibly soften the impact of the next big drought, at myajc.com.


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