The state Senate added a threat Monday to a measure trying to settle Georgia’s dispute over its boundary with Tennessee: It would take the Volunteer State to court if it did not agree to give Georgia a sliver of land on the Tennessee River.
The 48-2 vote sends House Resolution 4 back to the House for approval. Gov. Nathan Deal, Tennessee and the U.S. Congress would all also have to sign off on any deal. Deal said those talks have not yet begun, although he gave a hint Monday about where he stood.
“It is not something that would negatively impact the water supply of Tennessee,” Deal said. “I’ll just wait and see what it looks like.”
HR 4 essentially seeks to tap the Tennessee River as a source of drinking water for Georgia, which has struggled to boost its own supply amid record growth and, as of late, drought.
Georgia’s disputed claim to the river dates to 1818, when some say a surveyor flubbed setting the boundary with Tennessee by more than a mile — in essence marking the boundary of Georgia’s northwest corner just south of the river, out of reach to the Peach State.
Tennessee officials have rebuffed attempts since to make any changes.
The resolution is Georgia’s second attempt in five years to stake a claim on land north of the state line, providing access to the river. The 1.5 square miles wanted by the state houses no residents but is just large enough to put a pipe through to the river.
The House passed HR 4 in February, but without a threat of litigation.