Thirsty City

Politics, Greed, and the Making of Atlanta's Water Crisis

By Skye Borden

Subjects: Urban And Regional Planning, Public Policy, American History
Paperback : 9781438452784, 202 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438452791, 202 pages, September 2014

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Table of contents

1. Life before the Chattahoochee
2. Tapping the ‘Hooch
3. Water to the People
4. Taming the Flow
5. Urbanization and Its Discontents
6. Suburban Explosion
7. Urban Decay
8. Water War, Part I
9. Water War, Part II
Works Cited

Explores the evolution of Atlanta's water system and charts the poor urban planning decisions that created the city's current water shortage.


Atlanta is running out of water and is in the midst of a water crisis. Its crumbling infrastructure spews toxic waste and raw sewage into neighboring streams. A tri-state water war between Alabama, Florida, and Georgia has been raging since 1990, with Atlanta caught in the middle; however, the city's problems have been more than a century in the making. In Thirsty City, Skye Borden tells the complete story of how Atlanta's water ran dry. Using detailed historical research, legal analysis, and personal accounts, she explores the evolution of Atlanta's water system as well as charts the poor urban planning decisions that led to the city's current woes. She also uncovers the loopholes in local, state, and federal environmental laws that have enabled urban planners to shirk responsibility for ongoing water quantity and quality problems. From the city's unfortunate location to its present-day debacle, Thirsty City is a fascinating and highly readable account that reveals how Atlanta's quest for water is riddled with shortsighted decisions, unchecked greed, political corruption, and racial animus.

Skye Borden is the Coordinator of the River Region Food Policy Council in Alabama.


"…[a] well-researched account. " — CHOICE

"Instead of a date-filled, statistically laden work of history and law, Borden weaves a compelling story full of interesting asides and biographical anecdotes. I found the history fascinating. It represents a real contribution to the literature. " — William L. Andreen, University of Alabama School of Law