Environmentalists, scientists and farmers say drying rivers, streams and reservoirs and rainfall data are proof of the drought, but the state's resistance to more drastic measures to remedy drought "stems from its desire to protect its business-friendly image," Neela Banerjee of the Los Angeles Times reports. "Atlanta is the brightest symbol of the 'New South,' and the Southern miracle depends on the use of natural resources, and the key resource is water," said Flint Riverkeeper Executive Director Gordon Rogers. Georgia's political agenda is largely set by Atlanta and surrounding areas, inhibiting attention to issues facing smaller, more rural communities to the south, Banerjee reports.
When the drought of 2007-08 hit Atlanta hard, Banerjee reports the government took "dire steps" to ensure adequate water supplies, but the state is downplaying the current drought. The state Environmental Protection Division's official position is that asking urban residents to conserve water would not help the drought-riddled part of the state, even though hydrologists say it would increase stream flows and improve water quality, which typically deteriorates during drought. Deal has annexed the state climatologist's office from the University of Georgia into his administration, leaving some to charge that it reduces the office's independence. (Read more)