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“Dead on Arrival?”

October 8, 2010

The tail end of this AJC article today – briefly addressing the tri-state water war as referenced in the headline – was a reminder of last week’s news blip (almost equally brief) regarding water war maneuvers, which deserves a note here.

“DOA” was the assessment that came from Alabama Senator Richard Shelby in response to water war-related legislation dropped last Thursday in Washington by Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss.

“Moving very slowly” may be a gentler way to put it, according to reports, as dropping the legislation then was really a matter of getting it into the hopper just ahead of a recess which will be followed by midterm elections and then a lame-duck session later this fall. Also, as the AJC reported, “The legislation mirrors language that Isakson and Chambliss inserted into a still-pending federal water bill in May,” and that bill doesn’t appear to have gone very far either.

The key to resolving the tri-state water war is negotiation among the states, and while the Georgia senators argue that it’s useful to have this legislation running in parallel to that foot-draggingly slow process, it’s easy to see that Sen. Shelby disagrees.

His language is echoed by this Birmingham News blog post, which says the Isakson-Chambliss proposal for federal authorization of water supply withdrawals from Lake Lanier “would derail the delicate negotiations of the three governors to reach a water-sharing agreement, and make Georgia the clear winner in the water wars.”

That said, a partial reauthorization of Lanier for water supply has been identified by Georgia conservationists as one piece of a solution that’s sustainable – for Georgia and neighboring states – when it comes to the water war and our state’s overall water crisis. Presumably a partial reauthorization could be a piece of an agreement reached in the negotiations among the states. We’ll see.

-Ben Emanuel

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