Saturday, October 27, 2007

Three-way drought dispute: Georgia, Florida, Alabama

Palm Beach Post: After 17 years, a tri-state water war may ultimately come down to this: Should Florida's endangered mussels and fishing industry be protected or should Georgia residents have water to drink? Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's recent pleas for emergency drought relief have brought a long-simmering battle involving Florida, Alabama and Georgia to a boil.

Coping with a record-setting drought and facing a potential water shortage, Georgia officials have demanded that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stop releasing so much water from its reservoirs to its neighbors downstream - and have asked President Bush for help.

But Florida and Alabama officials have made their own presidential plea: Don't give in to Georgia's demands. "We can all see the effects the drought is taking on our region," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wrote to Bush this week. "We are unwilling to allow the unrealistic demands of one region to further compromise the downstream communities."

The tri-state water war has been playing out since the late 1980s. It has prompted a half-dozen federal lawsuits and plenty of finger-pointing, including charges that one state is favored over another. The dispute has outlasted three Florida governors...

…Crist said the Panhandle already is facing "economic peril" because of "insufficient water flows." "Further reductions would only hasten the decline of this important component of Florida's economy," Crist wrote. "The resulting loss of jobs will devastate a people who have relied on this industry for generations."…

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