What the latest round of the ‘water wars’ means for the Chattahoochee Valley


COLUMBUS, Ga. — Georgia, Florida, and Alabama have been feuding over water use for more than two decades.  News 3 digs deeper to find out what the current state of the water wars means for the Chattahoochee Valley.

It’s a sweet, soothing sound.  But water has been anything but a healing source between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.

“The legal battles over the rights of the water coming out of the Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin flowing into the Apalachicola River has been going on since 1990,” says Henry Jackson, Executive Director of the Chattahoochee RiverWarden.

But this week, another chapter in this long war was written. Ralph Lancaster, appointed special master by the Supreme Court, found Florida’s allegations that Georgia’s using too much of the natural resource doesn’t hold ‘water,’ at least in his opinion.

Jackson explains Florida’s assertions against Georgia’s water use.

“And their complaint was that Georgia is not allowing enough water to come down the river to meet the needs of the ecosystems and the seafood economy in the Apalachicola River and the Apalachicola Bay,” says Jackson.

Roger Martin former Executive Director of the Chattahoochee RiverWarden says, “I think we’re in the next step of the pendulum swinging.”

If anyone, Martin should know.  He’s watched the water wars unfold over the years.

“We’ve got enough water in the river basin if we’re not in drought. We need to really develop a really fine compact between the three states. How do we manage this water system when we’re in a drought?” poses Martin.

The water wars between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama have been ongoing for the past 25 years. In that quarter of a century, the states and the federal governments have spent about $1 billion dollars in tax money.

As the water wars rage on, what does the current status mean for Georgia, particularly the Valley area?

“It’s definitely a victory for the metro Atlanta area and for the agriculture industry in the southern part of Georgia. It is a challenge, though, for people that are downstream on the Chattahoochee River of metro Atlanta. The more metro Atlanta is allowed to pull from Lake Lanier, the less that communities like Columbus will receive in flows down the Chattahoochee River,” says Jackson.

But stay tuned. This war isn’t likely to end anytime soon.

Martin comments on extent of the water shortage in Lake Lanier and the need for water conservation.

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