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THIRSTY GEORGIA'S PLAN TO GET WATER: MOVE STATE LINE

Nearly two centuries after a flawed survey placed Georgia's northern line just short of the Tennessee River, some legislators are suddenly thirsting to set the record straight.

A historic drought has added urgency to Georgia's generations-old claim that its territory ought to extend about a mile farther north than it does and reach into the Tennessee.

"It's never too late to right a wrong," said Georgia state Sen. David Shafer, whose bill would create a boundary line commission to resolve the dispute.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen's reaction: "This is a joke, right?"

In Cole City Hollow, an obscure border community where some northwest Georgia residents rely on Tennessee roads, the river is so close to crossing the state line it almost juts into the yard of a Georgia house.

If Tennessee's southern border were the 35th parallel - as Congress designated in 1796 - Georgia would have a share of the Tennessee River. But a surveying team sent by Georgia to chart the line in 1818 was a bit off the mark.

Historians say mathematician James Camak, who led the team, begged the state to provide him the latest equipment, but instead he had to rely on an English sextant - an instrument more familiar to sea captains than land surveyors. Other stories say Camak's team was scared away by a group of Native Americans.

Surveyors now know that the Georgia-Tennessee border was placed about 1.1 miles south of where it should be. But that, surveyor Bart Crattle said, is history.

"Just because you have more accurate equipment, you can't start moving border lines," said Crattle, a Georgian who works in Chattanooga and is licensed to survey in both states. "It's correct - no matter how wrong it is."

But Georgia partisans say they want what's rightly theirs.

"A state boundary can only be changed by the legislatures of the states, with the consent of Congress," said Shafer, a Republican from Duluth. "It cannot be changed by a mathematician with a faulty compass or a skittish surveying party afraid of the Indians."

Bredesen, a Democrat, said he'll have none of it. "We will protect our borders here in Tennessee," he said.

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