I wouldn't say it's dire right now, but plans are being made for the possibility even though the government isn't talking about them (I have a good friend who has some contacts in the state gov't that have dropped some comments). Essentially, our water level is pretty far down at this point. If it runs out, they'll have to evacuate the region, since there will be no water for food, sewage, hospital care, etc. The worst case (and I think unfortunately likely scenario) if it happens is going to be a significant economic collapse of the SE which will effect the entire country. You're talking of millions of people out of work, not paying mortgages, looting on a mass scale, all of the major corporations shutting down headquarters here in Atlanta. It's a scary prospect, but hopefully one that you can see coming. It won't be overnight, as we'll have some warning of when our water will probably run out.
While we have been getting more rain the last month or so, we haven't come close to rebounding to any sort of normal level. Unless our rain level drastically increases (or we get the remnants of a hurricane next year), this summer will lower the water level even more, and the cycle will just continue with less water each year. It doesn't hurt that growth and development are continuous, and more and more demands are being put on an already stressed system. Sooner or later, Lake Lanier is going to run out of water. Doesn't help that the Corps of Engineers keeps releasing millions of gallons a day (more than the level of water coming in) for a handful of fisherman in Florida who lose their livelihood if some mussels die.
There are talks of digging a new reservoir north of Atlanta, but they've only started working on the plans. There's years of red tape and Congressional hearings to go through. And I'm also wondering how they'll fill a new reservoir, when we're not getting enough rain to fill the one we've already got.
I wouldn't not return here if this is where you want to be. I'd seriously consider whether to buy any property here though. My SO and I purchased a house last spring before the real news of it was coming out and going dry became a real concern. I can say that if we'd waited 6 more months to buy, we probably would have made the decision not to do so at least for a few more years to see where things were going. After all, things can all change with one hurricane, as I've heard parts of Texas were in a similar situation a few years ago, but with even less available water, and all it took was one storm to not only refill reservoirs but also cause flooding.
And sorry to hijack the thread...