Madison County Opinion...

 May 2, 2001


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
May 2, 2001

Frankly Speaking

Dam on Broad River is a bad idea
In a search for water, some Madison County officials have suggested that a dam be constructed on Broad River to provide water Madison and several bordering counties. I think this is a bad idea.
The Broad River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in this area. It is a popular stream for canoeing and other river-borne sports. It provides natural areas that allow native wildlife a chance to survive.
Most of the land in the Broad River basin is privately owned, and contributes substantially to the tax base of the affected counties. There are other sources of water that can be used.
Most of the rivers in Northeast Georgia contain dams. There are three major impoundments on the Savannah River, Lake Hartwell, Lake Russell and Lake Thurmond (Clarke Hill). Lake Oconee disrupts the flow of water in the Oconee River. Only the Ogechee River that rises south of Athens joins the Broad as an unobstructed stream. Broad River is recognized by numerous ecology organizations as a valuable resource because it is unrestricted.
The Broad River contains a number of rapids that are ideal for beginning canoeist. The water is strong enough to give a thrill to whitewater enthusiasts, without being overly hazardous. Various clubs and church groups use the river for outdoor adventures.
The river provides a greenway that protects various animal and plant species. Each spring, a number of young black bears are seen along the Broad. These animals often go exploring before establishing a permanent territory in the mountains. Wildlife officials are using the Broad to reestablish an endangered fish, the Robust Redhorse, which requires clean, free-flowing water.
It will take a substantial amount of land to contain a water supply lake large enough to supply three or more counties. A large area of private land would have to be purchased or taken if the landowners refuse to sell. The cost of the land would be in the millions. Construction and maintenance of a dam would add millions more. The loss of property tax revenue would add to the cost of the project. The cost of damage to the quality of the river cannot be determined.
Before we spend the kind of money it would take to build and maintain a lake of this size, we should explore the construction of a water plant on one of the major lakes on the Savannah. I suspect that we could construct a water plant and pipelines to the various cities and counties for less than the cost of a new dam.
Before we disrupt the natural flow of the Broad River, let's make sure we tap all other available sources of water. A free-flowing river is far too valuable to lose unnecessarily.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net.


 

 

 

 

 



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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
May 2, 2001

From the Editor's Desk

A travel story
As the world turned its eyes to the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, I crossed the Atlantic to see six countries in 30 days.
I saw Van Gogh's art in Amsterdam, the Vatican, the Acropolis in Athens, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps outside Krakow, Poland. I walked the streets of Venice, Prague and Budapest.
I stepped off the plane in Atlanta after the trip, not such a changed man as I had anticipated, but certainly a tired one. "Oh, it was neat," I muttered to my parents, who were eager to hear something other than the sighs and grunts I offered.
"What did you see?"
"Oh, you know. Buildings, art, a lot of stuff."
I had traveled by plane, train, boat and bus over the previous 30 days. Now I had a 90-minute ride in a car that I wasn't too thrilled about.
The air-conditioner finally kicked in as I rested my head back on the seat, ready to sleep. Several minutes passed before I opened my eyes, seeing my parents staring straight ahead, silent. Shoot, I owed them more than yawns and grunts. I was fresh out of college and home from a long trip - and my parents had paid for both of these luxuries.
"There were these goats that about ran me off a mountain," I said.
They both craned their necks to look at me. So I started my story and began to see it all again, the mountains spread endless against the horizon, land covered with green bushes, which - at a distance - seemed to invite a barefoot run, but up close the plants were prickly and dry, only beckoning for cuts and blood.
There were four of us and we stopped walking to note how lost we were as we looked out at the barren landscape of the Greek island Andros. Stomping over the dusty earth and dried goat pellets, which were scattered over the island like a well-peppered potato, I had imagined myself in a space suit with big white boots moving slow and weightless, leading the three friends of mine away from a spacecraft to the other side of a hill to view something spectacular and new to man. I pretended the old, abandoned shepherds' huts we passed were evidence of something not human.
After changing directions and nearly giving up for being lost, we finally arrived at our destination - the monastery of St. Nicholas. A large monk with a bushy, black beard who spoke no English led us inside where we met Bartholemeau, an Australian monk who had been at the 1,100-year-old monastery for five years. He told us that the man who greeted us had lived at the monastery alone for over 20 years, but the monk didn't seem too excited about company, nodding off at the table where we sat drinking the bitter coffee they gave us.
Bartholemeau led us through several rooms in the monastery. He took us to the back of the structure to show us the skulls of the monastery's monks stored beneath the building.
Icons hung on the stone walls and the monk paused at one, forming the sign of the cross on his chest and telling us about how the icon cried real tears, but no tears were falling.
We were invited to stay for a service. The others accepted, but I was confused by what I saw and very hungry. So I set out on my own, back to the hotel.
I was moving fast, feeling sure I knew my way back. Then as I rounded a curve, I looked at a slope to my right where several feet away, at least 30 goats, some horned, stood perfectly still, all looking back at me. I turned to my left to see the water and the rocks far below. One goat appeared agitated with me, his head motioning as if to lead a charge. I thought of goats bumping me off a cliff and wondered what sort of word my parents would get about my demise. Would they think I jumped?
But the goats stayed put. And I made my way back to the hotel, where I enjoyed a drink in the company of several locals.
And two weeks later I was home again and glad to be there.
I finished my story and looked at my mother and father, wishing I had been a better note taker during my travels, wishing I could pay them back with something better than a goat tale.
It's been five years since that trip. I reflect on it often, realizing better now than then, what a special gift it was.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

 


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