Water Wars: Part Two

By: April Douglas
By: April Douglas

Georgia, Alabama and Florida have been fighting over their common rivers for years, in and out of court. Some argue at the center of the debate is how much water does Georgia need to supply metro Atlanta, and at what cost?

Georgia contends they need the water for more than growing urban Atlanta. It’s a three sided argument involving three states, and it seems no one is willing to budge.

Seventy-four-year-old James Mitchell's ties to the Apalachicola River run deep. Spending summer days along its bank is a family tradition, yet a three state fight over sharing water is threatening to disrupt this serene setting.

The decades old dispute involves Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and the water that flows through their states from the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint River system.

Much of the previous debate has focused on the growing Atlanta area and that its growing needs would leave downstream communities with insufficient water.

Reports say Georgia wants enough water to sustain metro Atlanta's projected growth during the next 30 to 50 years.

"How much water does Atlanta store at Lake Lanier for their own growth compared to how much it sends down here?" asked Congressman Alan Boyd.

Georgia officials argue the span of debate is more than sprawling Atlanta.

"Water needs within Georgia's portion of the ACF basin include agricultural production, water supply, environmental protection, fish and wildlife, recreation hydropower and navigational interests."

Alabama wants adequate water supply to fuel its own growth. Sunshine State residents say a tri-state agreement between Alabama, Georgia and Florida would wash away their fears of loosing this natural jewel.

"Need to come to an agreement, make sure have water in this system not only for environment," said Chattahoochee Florida city manager Lee Garner.

James Mitchell just hopes he'll be riding this river for years to come. Florida has added a new twist to the three state fight about water sharing. It wants a federal judge to consider the plight of several endangered species on the Panhandle as the judge decides how to settle the 15 year dispute.


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