October 20, 2007

Army Corps Of Engineers; Can they really be this stupid?

Much of the US has been suffering drought, including Georgia. Water levels are down, and severe restrictions are in place. It's so bad that cattle farmers are on the verge of culling their herds. Lakes are drying up. And I mean COMPLETELY drying up.

The State of Georgia believes that the severe problem requires drastic measures. They want the Army Corps of Engineers to stop releasing water from Georgia's primary resevoir, Lake Lannier. The lake, which is FIFTEEN FEET below its normal capacity is being drained by 3.2 billion gallons a day. The water serves two purposes; to meet the flow needs of a Florida hydroelectric power plant, and to maintain an adequate water levels for endagered species of fish and wildlife.

The Governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, has requested that the outflow be reduced to stem the crisis. The Army Corps of Engineers response: what crisis? Apparently the Corps doesn't speak to the US Geological Service. Apparently, the Corps isn't even reading its own website. According to its own data, the levels are tailing off at an alarming rate.

Major Daren Payne of the Army Corps of Engineers wrote a letter to the Governor, stating that Georgia was "not going to run out [of water] any time soon." He's the deputy commander for the district that oversees the lake and the dams in the area. And he seems to be some kind of idiot.

Hey, Major Moron, here's a reality check for you:

On the left is a picture of the East Point Reservoir, taken about a year ago.*

On the right is a picture of the SAME reservoir, taken last week.
Notice something? Like the LACK of WATER? I'd certainly classify it as "running out of water."*

It's one thing for the Corps to claim that they are required to send a certain amount of water downstream to meet the needs of certain mandates; it's quite another to actually LIE about the problem. There IS a drought, and Georgia IS losing water at an alarming rate. If Major Payne can't admit that, it's time to toss his ass out and put someone in charge who, at the very least, isn't living in a state of denial.

Suddenly, the devestation in New Orleans makes more sense: after all, it was no secret that the city was below sealevel. It was no secret that the levees were old, and needed maintainence. But with men like Major Payne in command, nothing gets done because they simply deny that the documented problems exist.

There may be reasons not to stem the flow of water bleeding out of Georgia; the lack of a drought or false claims about the water supply are not among them.

*photos in this post linked from the CNN website.


  1. Those photos are stunning - what a slap of reality!

  2. Credit CNN - I just linked to them. Scary stuff, huh?

  3. Just to clear the record and make sure everyone has the correct information I'd like to point out several indisputable facts regarding the drought situation and Lake Lanier water supplies:

    1. There are over 280 days of water left in Lake Lanier assuming no change in current consumption levels and that we get NO precipitation whatsover during that time period.
    2. Lake water below the conservation pool (i.e. the dreaded "dead pool") has been tested by local labs and is within normal drinking water quality specifications.
    3. Lake Lanier has not yet hit it's historic low. In fact, although this drought is the worst in history in terms of intensity and duration, we are still four feet above the all time low for Lake Lanier recorded in 1981 when the population drawing water from the lake was about 1/3 of what it is today.
    4. The pictures in this article, while alarming to say the least, are pictures of a small, shallow cove in one area and certainly not indicative of the overall situation at Lake Lanier. In fact, over 65% of the total volume of water that the Corps can retain in Lake Lanier is still in the lake.

    Thus, while we have a serious drought and a very serious long term water management problem for the entire Southeast, I'd say the Corps has done a pretty good job of managing a scarce resource in the face of exceptional drought, massive urban growth and in the face of no less than a dozen lawsuits from three different states.

    v/r Major Daren Payne
    "aka Major Moron"

  4. Major, I'm so glad you responded.

    You state that under current conditions, there is a 280 day supply of water left. That is less than a year; or around 9 months. I consider anything less than two years to be "soon" when we're talking about a drought that's already lasted that long.

    1. Bragging that you have a supply that won't last even as long as the current drought has run isn't very reassuring. And with the rainfall record over the last two years, counting on rain isn't the smartest thing I've heard. Assume the rain fall continues the same rate for the next year: how long will it take to replenish the lake? Hmm, NEVER, that's how long, under the current trend.

    2. Did I address water quality in my post? I did NOT. Not sure why you're bringing it up.

    3. I stand corrected about the historical low. I guess I'm about four months early.

    4. So, the lake is at 65% of its capacity? Hmm, that's 35% empty or less than 2/3 of its volume. This is supposed to reassure anyone? The guy who's walking across his old fishing hole should sleep much better tonight, huh?

    You've got a problem looking at reality, Major. Fending off a dozen lawsuits isn't a sign of success. Particularly when it is STATE GOVERNMENTS doing the suing. If you're successful, why would anyone sue?

    In the wake of New Orleans, I'm not given to cutting any slack the ACoE. And your response to the governor of Georgia doesn't inspire any confidence in you or the Corps.

    So for know, I'm afraid you're still "Major Moron" to me. But at least you got balls. I may question your wisdom, but you got the courage to stand for your convictions. I wish I found that reassuring. I do not, and neither, apparently, do the people in three states who've filed a dozen lawsuits.

  5. Did anyone catch that segment on WSBTV just a few days ago where the Army Corps was "caught" releasing 2.5x more water than they needed to from another lake recently? It almost makes you wonder if there more too it than just drought conditions. In fact, if you look at graphs of water release on Lake Lanier, there was a point several months ago where the Army Corps all the sudden started releasing major amounts of water (much more than they had previously).

  6. Actually I should note that the graph only showed a major different in how the water was handled. The actual design of the graph was so confusing that I couldn't tell if it meant they were releasing more water or if the lake all the sudden got less water or what.