Georgia Claims Tennessee River; Chattanooga Next?

Georgia is in a border dispute with a neighboring state, but it's not the Georgia you're thinking of.


In 1845, we almost went to war with Britain over the 54th parallel. In 1950, we went to war in Korea over the 38th parallel.  In 2013, there could be a lawsuit over  the 35th parallel.

Times Free Press (“Georgia Senate passes resolution to move state line, claim Tennessee River water“):

Georgia senators today passed a resolution calling for the correction of survey areas along the state’s northern border in a 48-2 vote, a news release states.

“The Tennessee Valley Authority has identified the Tennessee River as a likely source of water for North Georgia,” said Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, as he presented the resolution. “Yet the state of Tennessee has used mismarked boundary lines to block our access to this important waterway.”

Georgia House Resolution 4 proposes a settlement of the boundary dispute, based on almost 200-year-old survey errors, clarifying Georgia’s access to Tennessee River water. It directs the state’s attorney general to sue to gain control of the entire area south of the 35th parallel if no agreement is reached with Tennessee, the Georgia Senate Press Office release states.

My guess is that this will stop short of gunfighting. But, if Georgia succeeds in taking over the Tennessee River–whose name should be something of a clue–there’s no telling where this ends. There are a lot of Georgia Bulldogs fans in Chattanooga. And East Tennessee is on Eastern time, while the rest of the state is on Central time.

via Zach Beauchamp, who Tweeted, “Georgia is in a border dispute with a neighboring state, but it’s not the Georgia you’re thinking of.” I knew damn well which Georgia. But I figured it was the decades-old dispute with Alabama and Georgia over access to water from the Chattahoochee River.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    I think Tennessee has a good laches argument here….Doug, your opinion?

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    We are all Tennesseans now.

  3. legion says:

    Tennessee is the same state whose legislators can’t tell the difference between a mop-washing sink and creeping Sharia. Maybe if they saw someone across the state line with dark skin, they’d mobilize the Guard for an incursion to Georgia?

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Possession = 9/10th of the law.

  5. NickTamere says:

    Georgia’s facing a water shortage due to their terrible water management practices (they love their golf courses and landscaping), a 1990s population explosion, and a lack of a spine to deal with those issues. They finally had to institute rationing but even that was widely seen as a toothless joke. Atlanta was caught “illegally” taking water from the Lanier basin in Georgia and has been involved in a “water war” with Alabama and Florida, who both claim that Georgia is taking more than their fair share. The Georgia legislators see the Tennessee land grab as an easy out to their problems- they don’t have to inflict any painful measures on their voters and it looks like they’re “doing something” (instead of just praying), they no longer have to fight losing legal battles with Florida, Alabama, and themselves, there’s a sliver of a legitimate legal issue they can hide behind, and dangnabbit can’t you see they really need that water and you fellers up yonder has all that extra it just don’t seem right….

  6. Murray says:

    I like the thinking: “Their river would be good for us, let us unilaterally move the border”

    As for the justification, I would be careful if I were them. Who knows if some Indian tribe won’t show up with a 250 year old treaty to claim all of Georgia.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Water is the new oil.

  8. JKB says:

    Hardly matters, water taken from the Tennessee River is controlled by the TVA. I presume they want to put in a pipe then ask for permission to open the valve.

  9. NickTamere says:

    @JKB: if the border gets redrawn water taken from longer falls under the purview of the TVA. A chunk of the Tennessee River flows through Alabama which gives them water rights as well.

  10. NickTamere says:

    @NickTamere: if the border gets redrawn water taken from the Tennessee River no longer falls under the purview of the TVA.

    Forgot some words there.

  11. legion says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: You do know that’s not _actually_ a real legal principle, right?

  12. JKB says:


    TVA is a federal entity organized to manage the Tennessee River watershed. They control the water taken from the river. Nickajack lake is a TVA lake created by a TVA dam under TVA management. That isn’t to say that TVA would not permit the draw off but the word I read was that GA hadn’t discussed the matter with TVA.