The State House has overwhelmingly passed a resolution to reclaim some of Georgia's land mistakenly given to Tennessee in a flawed survey nearly 200 years ago.
When Georgia ceded the Mississippi Territory to the United States, the northern border of the state with Tennessee was established at the 35th parallel. A survey in 1818 mistakenly marked it one mile south.
Rather than reclaim all 66 square miles, the measure by Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) only seeks 1.5 square miles which is currently owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority. That could allow for a future pipeline from Georgia into the Tennessee River.
“It will be the first step toward supplying the necessary water for Georgia and especially the entire southeast to progress and move forward,” he told his fellow House members.
Unlike similar legislation to reclaim the land in the past, this one may have traction. A bipartisan group of legislative leaders have signed on the resolution and Gov. Nathan Deal has agreed to support it.
“This is a tricky subject,” Deal told reporters. “It is one that I think has some merit attached to it.”
Geisinger tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish he’s even received positive reception from some Tennessee lawmakers.
“Some of them look at this proposal, because we’re not talking about taking their citizens into Georgia, as reasonable,” he says. “We’ll just find out if that’s the broad thought of folks in Tennessee.”
Geisinger says there was great opposition to previous legislation that sought to reclaim all of the territory because more than 40,000 of Tennessee residents would become Georgians and have to begin paying state income taxes.
He says the Tennessee River produces on average 24 billion gallons of water a day, more than 15 times the Chattahoochee River.
If the measure passes the state Senate, it will be sent to the Tennessee legislature where Deal work with lawmakers and the governor there to reach an agreement. It would then be forwarded to Congress for approval. If not, the U.S. Supreme Court could make the ultimate decision.