Water Wars Ruling Exposes Lack of Water Resource Planning in Alabama
Yesterday’s ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the decades-long tri-state water wars should be a wake-up call for Alabama to get serious about planning its own water future, Alabama conservation groups said today.
The appeals court late yesterday overruled a 2009 finding by a federal judge that the Corps of Engineers has been illegally using Lake Lanier to supply water to Atlanta. The appeals court ruling is a setback for Alabama, which has long sought to compel Georgia to release more water from the lake and into the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin to meet downstream water and energy needs of communities and farms in southeast Alabama.
The future sustainability of Alabama’s water resources depends on a healthy balance between the states’ competing water uses within the shared water systems. Unplanned growth and over-allocation of water resources in each state has created a system that has been out of balance for decades. This court ruling highlights the fact that Alabama must engage in meaningful planning for long-term sustainability by being as efficient as possible in our water use.
“The ruling should be a wake-up call for Alabama. As the only state in the tri-state water conflict that does not have a comprehensive water management plan, Alabama continues to be in the weakest position for negotiating the needs of people, businesses, communities, and ecosystems,” said Cindy Lowry with the Alabama Rivers Alliance. “It’s clear Alabama can no longer rely on litigation to try to keep the waters flowing in our state. The future of clean water in Alabama lies in strong leadership from our elected officials.”
“The current severe drought in southeast Alabama is a stark example of how important preparation and planning are for managing our water assets,” said Gil Rogers with SELC. “Our groups issued a water agenda for Alabama a couple of years ago that provides a framework to develop a balanced approach to water allocation that would allow Alabama communities and businesses to thrive. We stand ready to assist the governor, the legislature and other leaders to formulate such a plan. We must act now.”
The Alabama Rivers Alliance is Alabama’s state-wide organization working to defend and restore Alabama’s rivers by advocating for smart water policy, organizing at the grassroots level, and teaching citizens how they can protect their water in order to achieve healthy rivers, healthy people, and a healthy system of government for the state of Alabama.