Feds to determine Southeast water sharing policies
The federal government will have to establish water-sharing policies between three Southeastern states after the states’ governors failed to reach an agreement between them, according to a letter from Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. Kempthorne sent the letter to the governors of Georgia, Alabama and Florida on March 1, the deadline for the states to establish the basics of a water-sharing plan.
The three states have been at odds for nearly two decades over the use of water from the Chattahoochee River and other major water sources. The states had agreed on a temporary program set to expire in June, and Kempthorne says the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies will now devise a permanent plan. Kempthorne wrote that it is regrettable that it will be “a solution directed to the states instead of our much hoped for solution coming from the states.” “If your collective judgment changes at any time prior to complete revision of water control plans and manuals, and you would like to reconvene technical collaboration on interim operations, we will welcome your collaborations,” the secretary wrote.
Spokespersons for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley declined to comment to the press on Kempthorne’s letter. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s spokesman Bert Brantley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the federal intervention was not the governor’s preference. “We certainly would have preferred to reach an agreement with our neighboring states,” Brantley said. “We were hopeful that we could actually get to an agreement.”