The Tennessee River, at least at the point where it was supposed to dip down into Georgia, flows at an extremely high volume: The Tennessee Valley Authority in 2004 found it had excess capacity of 1 billion gallons per day. That’s far more than Georgia would need to help alleviate its water issues. Tapping into it in extreme northwest Georgia in order to help metro Atlanta would be controversial, as it would require an interbasin transfer of water. But it is doable, and it could prove necessary someday.
After Lancaster’s recommendation, it may seem the urgency to do so has lessened. Not so. The time to settle the question of our border with Tennessee, and riparian rights to the Tennessee River, is now, when our backs are not up against the proverbial wall because of litigation with Florida (or Alabama) over the Chattahoochee-Flint. It is worth noting Lancaster just last month suggested revisiting this idea. That might carry more weight now that he has also ruled in our favor against Florida.
There is plenty of precedent for adjusting state borders. The Supreme Court settled a similar fight between Maryland and Virginia and 2003. North Carolina and South Carolina recently tweaked their border willingly, moving a couple of dozen people on each side from one state to the other.
Georgia’s 2013 resolution sought to avoid annexing Tennessee homes into Georgia, instead requesting a piece of land just wide enough to give us access to the Tennessee River at Nickajack Lake, west of Chattanooga. If Tennessee won’t agree willingly, Georgia should be ready to ask the Supreme Court to do the job.