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Tri-State Congressmen’s Confab

October 29, 2009

The congressional delegations of Georgia, Florida and Alabama met behind closed doors yesterday in Washington to… tell their states’ governors to get together after all and negotiate some solutions to the tri-state water war.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s article noted some of the chicken-and-egg (or is it hot potato?) dynamics at work here:

Yet in an indication of the complexity of the situation — and perhaps the lack of communication between the governors and members of Congress — a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue said there’s nothing stopping members of Congress from drafting legislation to authorize withdrawals from Lake Lanier, even if it will be ultimately left up to the governors to decide how much water each state should get.

Members of Congress from the three states, however, are hesitant to draft any legislation that authorizes withdrawals from Lake Lanier until the three governors work out details.

The Gainesville Times got a slightly more detailed report from Rep. Nathan Deal, who termed the meeting “amicable.”  And while the members of Congress want their governors to proceed expeditiously, it’s notable that Deal called the meeting “a beginning,” and the Times reported this:

The lawmakers did not discuss any recommendations on how the three states could play nice with the water resources they all share, nor did they set deadlines for the three governors to come to an agreement, Deal said.

If high-level officials aren’t setting deadlines yet, then maybe Georgians should be wary of attempts by our state’s leadership to use Judge Magnuson’s three-year timeframe to drum up support for expensively engineered water supply solutions? It would seem that some sort of Lanier reauthorization is in the cards, and that Georgia has plenty of time to stop and look at the water to be gained through efficiency and conservation before building new reservoirs or pushing for long-distance interbasin transfers of water.

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