Water workshop for lawmakers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Water workshop for lawmakers

August 31, 2004

Albany-- Legislators from across the state were invited to an irrigation workshop in Dawson.

Only four state lawmakers attended--all from South Georgia. They say the information learned is critical for the entire state.

Healthy crops contribute to a healthy economy. Without water, more than the crops suffer, "Our number one concern is agriculture. We certainly want to fight to be sure our resources are protected and not utilized for other sources, whether it is development or industry." State Senator John Bulloch, who is also a farmer in Ochlocknee, supports metering irrigation systems.

Democrat Bulloch says, "They have over estimated how much agriculture has used and this gives us a way to defend how much water agriculture is using."

Most irrigation systems are not being metered--yet, "Over 400-million gallons of water per year is being saved by more efficient uses of the irrigation systems and the studies they have done carries a lot of weight when we go back to metro Atlanta and they are always pointing the finger down here at South Georgia and the use of the water," says Albany Senator Michael Meyer Von Bremen.

South Georgia farmers and lawmakers believe that farmers are using less water than thought and the metering system will prove that. But, it is about more than just being right. It's about protecting the state.

Democrat Meyer Von Bremen says, "What really hit me hard was the fact that in California the Colorado river basin is being controlled by the federal government. So the question becomes do we want Georgia, Florida and Alabama to become a California Colorado river basin? I think the answer is no."

But, if Georgia doesn't use their water wisely, the courts might step in and show us how.

Only a handful of experimental metering systems have been installed. It will be several years before the data is collected to determine how much water South Georgia farmers are using.

Posted at 6:00 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com