State lawmakers look at Georgia-Tennessee border dispute... again

Bipartisan group hopes to have 'adult conversation' with Georgia's neighbor to the north


  • U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons
  • Georgia's claim to the Tennessee River continues to be debated close to 200 years later.

State lawmakers have once again decided to take another look at the contentious Georgia-Tennessee border in hopes of finally gaining access to the flowing waters of the Tennessee River.

The dispute over Georgia's northern boundary dates back to 1818, when state surveyors inaccurately determined that the border was 1.1 miles south of where it should actually be located on the 35th Parallel. The disputed area might seem inconsequential, but many state lawmakers over the years have argued that the error has robbed Georgia of a water resource.

Similar plans, which have failed in the past, most recently in 2008, have been criticized as a quick fix to the state's water needs. Now, a bipartisan group of the lower chamber's top lawmakers - including Reps. Jan Jones, Stacey Abrams, and Edward Lindsey - are revisiting the idea and have co-sponsored House Resolution 4.

When House Majority Whip Lindsey, R-Buckhead, spoke to CL last month as part of our legislative preview, he stressed the importance of finding long-term solutions to this issue.

"The fact of the matter is we're still very much a growing region that deals with an inadequate water source," says Lindsey.

Although HR 4 resembles past plans that weren't taken seriously by Tennessean lawmakers, Lindsey says that Georgia should work toward a "win-win" agreement with its northern neighbor.

"Let's go beyond invading Tennessee for the water, the fact of the matter is for reaching out for greater water sources, we need to be thinking outside the box on that level," he says. "What Tennessee needs, which our area has, is economic development. What they have, which we need, is a water source from the Tennessee River. They have more than enough water than they'll ever really need."

As part of the resolution, Georgia would agree to accept the flawed boundary as the legal border, provided that: