A hearing was held Monday regarding the continuing water dispute between the states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida in Chattahoochee, FL. The dispute has been going on in federal court since 1990.
U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello, hosted the forum at the Corps of Engineers offices overlooking Lake Seminole, where the Apalachicola River begins at Jim Woodruff Dam on the Georgia state line. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. and chairman of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Rural and Urban Entrepreneurship, joined Boyd.
“I have to tell you, I think this will be an uphill battle,” Boyd said. “There have been years of mistrust built up among the three states on this issue. We have to work together to tear down that wall of mistrust that the states have between themselves.” from the Fort Myers News-Press
“Greater Atlanta relies heavily on water in the north end of the system, including the Lake Lanier reservoir, while Florida is concerned about the ecological effect at its end of the system. The Army Corps of Engineers has reduced the amount of water flowing south into Florida while the region has been in a severe drought. Oyster beds are being reduced and shrimp are disappearing, and if the problems continue, tourism will decline along with the seafood industry. “They can fill up their pools, they can wash their cars, they’re dancing in the water up there and we can barely survive down here,” Franklin County Commissioner Russell Crofton said,” from the AP via Sarasota Herald-Tribune
From Rep. Boyd’s webpage, “Congressman Allen Boyd (D-North Florida) brought together local officials, Florida stakeholders, and oystermen at a Congressional Forum in Chattahoochee, Florida, on July 21, to discuss the impact of the low freshwater flows, Georgia’s lack of long-term water planning, and the drought on the Apalachicola River, the Apalachicola Bay, and North Florida’s communities. Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of Florida were on hand to listen to Florida stakeholder concerns and answer questions.
“This forum gave our stakeholders – those who live and are making a living on the river and bay – the opportunity to stand together and bend the Corps’ ear, so that the Corps knows the importance of the Apalachicola River and Bay to North Florida and what’s really at stake here for our people,” said Congressman Boyd. “The Apalachicola River and Bay and the local and regional economies are all suffering under the current way of doing business. While balancing the needs of all users along the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River System is no easy feat, we must work together to develop a more equitable water plan that does not threaten the livelihood and the very way of life for the people of North Florida.”
To me this is just another example of a Federal government out of control, bad long-term planning by the City of Atlanta, and underhanded behavior by the Army Corps of Engineers when they decided to cut a side deal with Atlanta in 2003 without including Alabama and Florida. My grandfather, R.I.P., worked for the Corps of Engineers for 40 years and I am pretty sure he would agree with me: This deal stinks, and now Rep. Boyd is calling for another study. Meanwhile, the shrimp and oyster industries in Gulf and Franklin counties continue to suffer due to government regulations. Georgia needs to be willing to sit down at the negotiating table with their neighbors directly, without conditions and Federal intermediaries. Then this situation might have a chance at resolution.