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Congratulations to Ashley Fielding and Sara Guevara for the excellent series on the Chattahoochee River, those who live along its 550-mile course and their lives. It has been a river of change, much has been asked of it and it has given to us just about all that it has.
How could anyone who saw it at the old Highway 60 single-lane bridge pontoon crossing, and even its sister the Chestatee, imagine that it would do so much for so many so far away? I saw them in the summer of 1953 on my first visit to North Georgia College. There has been a lot of water over many dams since.
Each of us has our own Chattahoochee memories. With me and my family, it has been nature study along the Apalachicola, fishing Lake Eufaula, living in Columbus, camping and canoeing in the mountains for 53 years. For all of those years, we have lived in Southwest Georgia and enjoyed the same along the Flint, its main tributary.
Many Georgians have watched 25 years of impotence in solving the usage problems on an equitable basis. That is why this series affected me so profoundly. It was indeed a breath of fresh air. No, two breaths of fresh air.
First was your introduction of George Sherk. I am impressed with his vision and forthrightness on who needs to be at the table. In my observations, at each conference the cast always was a carbon copy of the same interests, i.e., river basin organizations, never ordinary citizens who were well-informed and had something to offer. We were lucky to get to ask a question.
Second, your summation editorial on the following Sunday. You sold me when you said "it's everybody's river." All Georgians need to understand our plight in the very few counties out of the 159 that will have drinking water problems in the near future. I'm sure you know that there is misunderstanding and hard feeling brewing in all regions of our state. If we are divided, we cannot hope for a good outcome against other states.
You in Gainesville are at the epicenter of the focus, good or bad. Take the challenge. Write the eight or 12 or 20 articles about how this happened in the metro area. Go back those 25 years in the records and trace the usage shifts by gallons of all entities then and now. Give proper credit to those who can now return some water due to modern technology.
And continue to use stories like Lt. Governor Casey Cagle's admonition to Gainesville and Hall County leaders to stop the power battle. Cherokee County did it, as well as Lumpkin.
This is crunch time! It is about drinking water for a good portion of Georgia's residents. For most of us, farmers irrigating fields, folks out for a good time and fewer visits to Lake Lanier come in a distant second place to a pure glass of water to drink.
It is my prayer that we and the U.S. Congress can work out a reasonable solution to care for those affected the most in 2010. We work beyond that to care for ourselves. The river is tired.
Charles H. Mullis