The severe drought tightening like a vise across the Southeast has threatened the water supply of cities large and small, sending politicians scrambling for solutions. But Orme, about 40 miles west of Chattanooga and 150 miles northwest of Atlanta, is a town where the worst-case scenario has already come to pass: The water has run out.
The mighty waterfall that fed the mountain hamlet has been reduced to a trickle, and now the creek running through the center of town is dry.
Even last summer, as the water supply dwindled, city leaders cut off water only at night. But in August, Reames took the most extreme step yet and restricted use to three hours a day.
Elected in December, he has now spent $8,000 of the city's $13,000 annual budget to deal with the crisis. Most of the money went toward trucking water from Alabama.
He says the crisis in Orme could serve as a warning to other communities to conserve water before it's too late.
"I feel for the folks in Atlanta," he says, his gravelly voice barely rising above the sound of rushing water from the town's tank. "We can survive. We're 145 people. You've got 4.5 million people down there. What are they going to do? It's a scary thought." (h/t Governing)
As scary as this?
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