Working the waters: the political ecologies of scale and Georgia's 100-year drought
Throughout 2007, as forecaster’s predictions provided no relief for the drought stricken Southeastern United States, Georgia’s politicians grappled with how to manage a dwindling water supply. The interactions between a 100-hundred year meteorological drought, dramatic population growth, and unmanaged water usage, stressed North Georgia’s water supplies to an extreme level. Within Georgia, responsibility for drought management lies with both state and local governments. Drought management plans are developed at multiple levels and are implemented by state and local water suppliers. These scalar interactions challenge local governments, as they must follow multiple guidelines within the framework of their own communities. As governments struggle to manage water supplies locally, regionally, and statewide, water users struggle to meet water restrictions placed upon them. In particular, the green industry, a self-identified group who depend on garden, lawn, and plant maintenance for their economic livelihood, have confronted economic hardships due to outdoor watering restrictions that have eliminated their customer base. The green industry has recognized the political interactions between state and local governments, and has begun to organize themselves to maximize their political influence. The scale of analysis, the scale where people are exerting their political power, and the scale in which organizations are acting, co-determine their power to access water resources during a time of shortage. To understand the power relations, and authority, members of the community legitimated in relation to drought management, it is critical to understand how these relationships developed through the framework of politics of scale. In this study I address the interactions between state and local governments in the development and implementation of drought management policies. I will examine how members of the green industry have worked within this scalar political framework to protect the interests of their industry.