Statewide water plan regional, not partisan - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Statewide water plan regional, not partisan

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January 9, 2007

Albany -- It's Georgia's most precious resource, but creating a plan to manage it has taken three years.

"It touches essentially every economic sector of our economy," says State Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany. 

Dukes will be one of the deciding voices when state legislators make the final approval on the water management plan this year. But coming to an agreement may not be that simple.

He said, "I would hope it would be a plan that at least the legislature would be able to amend, change, add to or delete things that we don't feel is in the best interest of Georgians."

The Georgia Water Council's final revised plan serves as a guide for how the state divides its water from rivers, lakes and streams. This - in a state where much of its growing population is in Metro-Atlanta - politicians will have to device their own or keep the current plan which effects every aspect of consumption, from drinking water to farm irrigation. And in Georgia, agriculture accounts for more almost 70% of water usage.

"We have a really strong interest in our part of the state to make sure that we protect our agriculture interests because agribusiness is the number one business in the state. Not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it drives the economy of our state," says Dukes.

As the statewide water management plan enters its next stage, it will likely become immersed in gold dome politics. But you can expect that to be more regional than partisan.

"It is definitely going to be regional. This will probably be one of the most non-partisan fights or non-partisan issues that we will address in the General Assembly," said Dukes.

Now that the fight for how the state will use its water has taken center stage. turf war politics are sure to brew in Atlanta in the continuous battle over how we use our water.