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Atlanta Floods May Bring Temporary Peace to Water Wars

September 23rd, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

The is a silver lining in the more than 20 inches of rain that has beset the Atlanta area. The rain is substantially filling Lake Lanier, the primary source of drinking water for Atlanta, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, will bring temporary peace to a three state water war.

Florida, Georgia, and Alabama have been battling for 20 years over the rights to the water that eventually ends up in Apalachicola Bay. Until a recent court ruling, the Army Corps of Engineers has given Atlantas drinking needs priority over the needs of one of Floridas largest estuaries.

Which the Apalachicola Chamber director says has taken a toll on the local economy.

Weve been kept to a very low minimum flow thats not sustaining the environment,” Anita Grove Director of the Apalachicola Chamber of Commerce said. “Weve proved its not sustaining the environment.

Oysters, Shrimp, Grouper all spawn in these shallow waters. Without adequate freshwater flow, the fish dont move into the Gulf.

Crabs and everything raise in the marshland, in the flood plains,” Johnny Richards, president of the Seafood Workers’ Association, said. “When we dont have enough river flow, that stuff stays up there.

After 20 years of begging for water, this could quickly become a case of be careful for what you wish.

With all the rain in Georgia, Lake Lanier is returning to near normal levels. Water managers are expected to increase flow from lower dams in the system, sending more fresh water into the bay.

Because of the way its flooding right now, theyve got to get rid of the water,” Richards said. “They say that crap runs downhill, and were at the bottom of the hill.

In the end, the return of Lake Lanier will buy time to search for a compromise in the 20 year old war between the three states. At least until the next drought.

The Apalachicola Bay is responsible for 10 percent the countrys oysters.

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