Chamber's effort to protect river flow farsighted, needed
Knowing that the Decatur/ County Chamber of Commerce is doing more than talking about preserving the Tennessee River's flow is good news.
Keeping metropolitan areas such as metro Atlanta and even Birmingham from taking giant gulps from the river will require more than passing local legislation. Yet, doing that is a good start toward a regional and even interstate pact that preserves the flow.
Marshall County has a law that prevents other entities from tapping Lake Guntersville from its shores. The chamber seeks similar legislation here.
Legislators recognize that keeping the water within the watershed may be complicated. Atlanta is only 118 miles south of Chattanooga. If Atlanta were to take water there, that would impact Morgan County.
Many communities make claims on Tennessee River water that begins as the Upper Tennessee River Watershed in Lee County, Va.
The Tennessee Valley authority has dams and locks along a 650-mile route from Knoxville to Paducah, Ky., so the federal agency must be part of any effort to establish water rights. It already regulates the flow.
Discussing who might tap the river seems a bit esoteric, but chamber officials recognize the historic importance of the river to Morgan County and the communities that lie along its meandering flow.
Talking about doing something but failing to act won't protect the river from groups such as the Blount County Water Authority that wanted to supply Birmingham from Guntersville Lake.
The chamber recognizes cities and counties along the river need a long-range plan.