The announcement of a developing drought in Georgia is scary. In my 90 years I have survived some arid times. I remember in the 30’s my grandpa putting wooden whiskey barrels under each V slope on the roof. That provided rainwater for the cattle and the vegetable garden. 

Rainwater was also used to wash clothes and provide water for bathing. The bath did not appeal to me. Grandpa  got the first dibs on the bath tub, followed by grandma, in the same water. I was the smallest and naturally last in the bath. By the time I climbed into the tub I could have planted potatoes in the muck.

The bottom of a farm pond ruptured concurrently with one drought, the water escaping down into an abandoned coal mine tunnel. It was one of the driest summers in Indiana. I remember leaves turning fall shades early because of the lack of water. Crops withered and died. 

To keep mosquito larvae from thriving in rainwater a film of Energine cleaning fluid was poured on the water, the larvae came to the surface to breathe and died. The fluid evaporated so there was no contamination.

I read a national report in 1962 predicting Atlanta to be the most populated city in the country by year 2050. Lake Lanier supplies water down the Chattahoochee basin to the Gulf of Mexico. The lake depends on water from the middle of North Georgia via the Soque, Chestatee and Chattahoochee rivers. Rain in the Northeast portion of the state is channeled down the Savannah River and rain in Northwest Georgia flows into Alabama. 

When I arrived in Atlanta in 1962 the population was less than one million. The primary source of water was Lake Lanier. The primary source of water today is still Lake Lanier. Water conservation is vital.

In 2007 a severe drought created anxiety in Georgia. Upon retiring from business I worked in sales for Ace Hardware. With water restrictions and people complaining about their shrubbery dying, I thought about my grandpa’s rain barrels. Experimenting, I put spigots on plastic trash cans.  Ace sold hundreds of the product.         

With the possibility of a drought, I remembered conserving water on the farm. 

Taking a shower I always wait for the water to warm. Watching water going down the drain I took a bucket into the stall and kept it there while showering. I saved two gallons of gray water. I got out my calculator. 

Google indicates Lake Lanier holds 66 billion gallons of water under ideal conditions. 

If I took a shower daily I would conserve 730 gallons in one year. There are maybe 6 million people in Metro-Atlanta. The sum of that multiplication is 4,380,000,000. 

Vast areas in some western states are in crisis because of extended drought conditions caused by overpopulation and depletion of a natural resource. 

I am not an engineer but it seems that when we have pipelines moving gasoline and oil to market across the nation it would be a good idea to move water by a grid of pipelines from flood areas to regions suffering from drought. It makes little sense to permit floodwater to escape down river when it is needed to relieve drought conditions.

York is a WW II navy veteran and retired President of York Furs in Buckhead. You can reach Bill York by email: