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The Tennesee-Georgia line battle - Lumsden to lead new commission on border

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Rep. Eddie Lumsden

Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee

"This is an ongoing issue that dates back to the 1800s," The Armuchee Republican said Thursday. "The original boundary line survey was in error. There have been several efforts throughout history to resolve it, but nothing's been done."

 Once the senate members are appointed, Lumsden said they'll start scheduling meetings with experts and — hopefully — lawmakers in the two states to the north.

"Water is at the heart of this," he said. "The boundary was supposed to be at the Tennessee River ... That would provide some additional sources for North Georgia, and it's probably at the forefront of why we want to do this now."

Other House appointees are Republicans Jason Ridley of Chatsworth, Terry Rogers of Clarkesville and non-voting member Marc Morris of Cumming.

The Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission was created by SR 794, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller of Gainesville and backed by Northeast Georgia senators from Dahlonega, Toccoa, Danielsville and Buford.

Lumsden said a flawed 1818 survey put Georgia's border south of its actual location at the 35th parallel. Miller's resolution notes that the state never accepted the survey and it references Georgia General Assembly orders for a new one in 1887, 1941, 1947 and 1971.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit suggested in a 1974 ruling that Tennessee and Georgia reserve resolution of the boundary issue until a later date. Lumsden said the time has come.

"We're going to make a genuine effort to meet with our counterparts in Tennessee and North Carolina and see if we can agree on a general survey," he said. "That, to my mind, would be best. I don't think we need to go the lawsuit route. We just need to sit down and talk with our neighbors and see if we can't resolve this amicably."

The commission is expected to issue a report on its findings before it is automatically disbanded on Dec. 1.

Tennessee River water could be accessible in the northwestern corner of Georgia, although Tennessee lawmakers have not indicated support.

When the Georgia General Assembly pushed for a land swap in 2013, the Tennessee Senate applauded a visit from Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, one of a few lawmakers who voted against the initiative. The Associated Press reported they gave Mullis a signed coffee cup of water to take back to Atlanta.

In 2010, the 18-county Coosa-North Georgia Water Planning Council added the possibility of drawing water from the Tennessee River as part of its regional plan.

While there's been little movement on the statewide water plan that includes the regional blueprints, the council remains semi-active under the administration of the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission in Rome.