Hope floats

Published 10:17 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

If you mean business, than maybe we might get down to business.

For almost three decades, the states of Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been fighting over the waters of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers.

Now the fight has reached into the presidential campaign and Georgia’s U.S. senators are crying foul.

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Ian Bassin, a Florida policy director for the Barack Obama presidential campaign, held news conferences in Tallahassee and Panama City Thursday calling for an end to the Tri-State water feud. Bassin said Obama supports efforts by Florida’s U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to get a National Research Council study of the rivers to guide negotiations.

“The Apalachicola River supports a $171-million commercial-fishing industry around the Apalachicola River,” Bassin was quoted in a Tallahassee Democrat story on Friday. “For two decades, the three states have been fighting over this issue and there’s too much lawyering going on. The only winners now are the lawyers.”

Yes, but ….

Is too much lawyering any better than skewed scientists?

Georgia senators, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss denounced Obama Friday, “expressing their disappointment with comments he made.”

In a letter to Obama, Chambliss and Isakson said Obama’s campaign’s statement quoted Obama as saying he “‘Would direct the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a study to assess the water availability, supply options and demand-management alternatives that factor into ACF River System usage, as well as the impact of freshwater flow on the ecology of the Apalachicola River and Bay.’ You also said, ‘As President, I will make protecting Florida’s water resources a priority.’”

Yes, but ….

By protecting Florida’s water resources mean that Georgia’s going to have to get series about conserving its water resources and stop building beyond its infrastructure.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hosting a series of five “scoping” meetings that will provide information on the Water Control Manual for the ACF River Basin. The first meeting will be in Apalachicola Monday, the second in Dothan, Ala., on Tuesday and the third in LaGrange, Ga., on Wednesday. The other two are in Marietta on Thursday and in Gainesville on Oct. 29.

Georgia’s senators said they are pleased the Corps is moving forward with updating the Water Control Manuals, “because it will allow the Corps to make smarter decisions in their management of these river systems.”

Chambliss and Isakson say these updated manuals would include studies to assess water supply and demand, and environmental management practices for all the users and stakeholders in the basin, not just those on the Apalachicola River and Bay.

“To ask the Corps to ignore its responsibilities under federal law in favor of the residents of Florida is a clear affront to the residents of Georgia,” Chambliss’ and Isakson’s letter states. “To state that you will make protecting Florida’s water resources a priority over Georgia’s shows that you do not care about the needs of the people of Georgia.”

If more science is needed for more studies so more politicians can nitpick their arguments so they can ensure one particular constituent is served, then stop!

Get down to the business of considering all the users of the rivers, come up with a plan that includes reasonable solutions and sacrifices, and for heaven’s sake, keep politics out of it.