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July 22, 2003
Albany-- After ten years, the Tri-state water war is winding down.
Georgia, Alabama and Florida have come to a tentative agreement on how to share water, and plan to formally approve an outline next month. Georgia's governor isn't disclosing much about the terms of the agreement, but a proposed House Bill could be a hint.
This Terrell County farmland is soaking up plenty of irrigated water-- a source of contention between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. "You know we need to still stay focused on being good partners witsurroundinonding states but stay focused on the needs of our state--we are where the water is located," said Sen. Michael Meyer von Bremen.
Two Southwest Georgia leaders, Senator Michael Meyer von Bremen and Representative Bob Hanner are members of the Natural Resources Committee--Hanner chaired the group.
The committee spent two years studying Georgia's water needs-- House Bill 237 was created as a result-- but the bill died on the floor last session. That bill could be a key to what a tri-state water agreement would look like. "I don't think it would be in conflict. Everything we have done we have talked to the Governor's office about if it is in conflict or with EPD about what the three states are doing," said Rep. Hanner.
The three states have come close several times to reaching an agreement but the talks dried up before a contract was signed. South Georgia leaders say this time is different. "I've been told that, I've been told that, I hope it is I really do," Hanner said.
While water is plentiful now, it hasn't been that long since Southwest Georgia was starving for the precious resource. "It looks beautiful now, the corn fields are producing like they haven't in years," Meyer von Bremen said. "But at the same time, all it takes is about four or five weeks of no rain and we will be quickly reminded of how important this resource is."
It's a resource that has been a cause for debate now for more than a decade--talks that seem to be winding down. The House bill laid out new provisions for metering water and gave more power to the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
Bob Hanner says those changes were intended to complement any tri-state water agreement.