Parties vying for control of Flint’s future

Published 4:09 pm Friday, December 19, 2008

At one time, U.S. Congressman Allen Boyd’s idea to end dredging of the Apalachicola River made some Lake Seminole users uneasy because its intent regarding the lake was unclear.

For some people, restoring the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin to its natural state by sending more water downstream—as Boyd and other Floridians say they want for environmental reasons—meant the dam that created Lake Seminole in the early 1960s would be operated in a way that would be unconducive to recreation on and around the lake. Congressman Boyd has clarified his idea by stating he strongly supports the health and usage of Lake Seminole.

However, the issue of how water travels from North Georgia’s Lake Lanier to the Gulf of Mexico has been and continues to be debated.

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In a similar issue arising this year, U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Newnan) and Nathan Deal (R-Gainesville) sought $10 million in federal funding for a study of reauthorizing additional dams on the Flint River, according to the Macon, Ga., Telegraph.

Also, a first draft of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water District’s future water supply plan called for two dams on the Flint River after 2035, the Telegraph reported. The new dam proposals were removed from a later draft.

The idea dates to the 1970s, when federal authorities considered but ultimately had to abandon the idea of creating another dam on the Flint River near Thomaston after then-Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter vetoed the idea, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Basins’ operational manuals being updated

Opposition to ideas for any new dams on the Flint River has been spearheaded by the Flint Riverkeeper advocacy organization, which is based in Woodland, Ga., near Columbus.

Another concern is the ongoing update to the water control manual and environmental impact statement for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.

Col. Byron G. Jorns, commander of the U.S. Army Corps’ Mobile District, said the manual updates, which are also being done for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basins, are a part of a three-year project with a total estimated cost of about $10 million. The cost of the manuals are split between the ACF and ACT, for which manuals are being updated “more or less concurrently,” Jorns said.

Westmoreland, Deal joined Georgia U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, as well as five other Georgia congressmen in writing an October letter to President-elect Barack Obama after he indicated he would place priority on protecting Florida’s water resources if elected.

The legislators wrote they believe the update would “include studies to assess water supply and demand, and environmental management practices for all the users and stakeholders in the basins, 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,” they wrote.