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Governor Tries to Keep Apalachicola Flowing

October 25th, 2007 by Mike Vasilinda

oysters-on-tray.jpg  In a letter to the President, Governor Charlie Crist says the state of Georgia is making unreasonable demands to reduce the flow of water down the Apalachicola River. The city of Atlanta is facing record droughts, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, reducing the flow of water could have dire consequences on marine life as well as many who live and work in the panhandle.

Hear it here: Gov. Tries to Keep Apalachicola Flowing

Most days at sunrise, three dozen or so boats are already out oystering on Apalachicola Bay. The oysters depend on a delicate balance of fresh and salt water. Many of the 1100 seafood workers in Franklin County worry they’’ll be out of work if Georgia is allowed to reduce the flow of freshwater.

“There would be no fresh seafood without the flow of the river,” Johnny Richards of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association said.

Upstream, biologists worry more about endangered mussels than jobs.

“When we have endangered ones we have problems and that means people also have problems in terms of how they use rivers,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Gail Carmody said. I

In a sharply worded letter to the President, Charlie Crist says Georgia is being unreasonable when it asks for more water. He also says water shortage facing Atlanta was foreseeable, and Georgia did nothing to prepare. Oyster men and the people who sell them are already seeing the effects of the drought on the oysters.

The less freshwater flowing down the river, the harder it is for oysters to survive.

Restaurant owner Jeff Stillwell has been serving the bivalves for almost 3 decades.

“The oxygen has basically choked the oxygen away from this oyster and it has died,” Stillwell said. “This is a servable product. This is an unnservable product.”

The fight over water in the Apalachicola has been dragging on for almost twenty years, but the outcome has never been more critical for the Florida Panhandle.

The lack of fresh water is also having an impact on fish and shrimp hatchlings, reducing the number who survive.

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