Lawmakers: Watch for water grab - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers: Watch for water grab

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May 12, 2008

Albany --   Legislators say South Georgians need to keep a close watch on the state's new water plan. They say it contains a real danger for South Georgia in case of another drought.

Falling populations in South Georgia could make it easier for metro Atlanta in the future to grab water that normally flows to this area.

Legislators say the Georgia state water plan passed in 2008 should have South Georgians concerned.

"It allows people from metro Atlanta, North Georgia, to be able to get through interfaces and be able to tap into our aquifers. And that gave us real concern," said Albany State Representative Winfred Dukes.

Atlanta is the economic engine for the state, but legislators say the state must guard against that region controlling the rest of the state's water supply.

 "I see that as a problem, because if they can build a pipeline to go from the Chattahooche and ship it over to Atlanta. The Chattahooche of course comes to South Georgia, and if they are siphoning off the water before we get it, that's where we get our problem," said State Senator Michael Meyer von Bremen.

More than half of Georgia's population lives in Metro Atlanta already, and legislators say the 2012 redistricting could mean less representation for South Georgia, and less protection of the water.

"I think we as a delegation have to do everything we can to protect our water sources, even it they are in an aquifer. Because we do have the basin of the Flint River is on. We don't want a big straw, so to speak, coming and grabbing the resources of the Flint River," said Lee County and Albany State Representative Ed Rynders.

Atlanta's needs for water have to be addressed, but legislators say the trick is not to let South Georgia be forgotten. But they say South Georgia's abundance of water could be the economic development tool needed for the future.

"Companies are going to be looking for that water supply," said State Representative Freddy Powell Sims. "Why would they go where there is no water, or they are rationing water? They are going to have to come here."

Legislators say economic development, more jobs in South Georgia, is what is needed to stop the population shift to metro Atlanta.

Legislators say the Georgia Water Plan is needed, to start addressing the water concerns in the state if the drought continues.

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