ACF stakeholders discuss problems - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ACF stakeholders discuss problems

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By Sarah Baldwin - bio | email

July 9, 2008

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - In our ongoing drought problems have continued to grow in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint or ACF, River Basin. This week stakeholders for all three rivers met in Bainbridge to discuss the river basin's economic impact and to try to come up with solutions to the problems they're facing.  

The waters of the Flint River run through Bainbridge making it Georgia's first inland port and making it a key part of the ACF system.  "Right on the Flint River so this was a natural place to have this meeting," says City Manager Chris Hobby.

The three day meeting brought together various groups who are stakeholders in the ACF River Basin.  "We've got the Tri-Rivers Water Association, the Apalichicola River Keepers. One is environmentally focused, the other is navigation focused. The Corps of Engineers, federal representatives," says General Joe Schroedel, South Atlantic Commander for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Most agree there have been problems with the past operation and maintainance of the ACF system damaging its reliability and causing environmental problems.  They say this week is about finding a way to work together to solve the problems.  "The basic problem on the ACF is there's not enough water in the system to meet all of the demands from Lake Lanier to the Appalachicola Bay.  All of our systems our multi-purpose. So every purpose you can think of for water, its there. How do you balance them?" says Schroedel.

One major topic of discussion is the return to using the system for navigation  "Right now we have an issue with channel depth and being able to bring barges up and what we're trying to get to is some common ground with our friends in Florida so we can find a solution that works for everyone and maintains this system," Hobby says.   

If they can find that solution, south Georgia leaders say it would make a big impact on our economy. "It would effect our manufacturing community and our farming community because you can move freight cheaper by water than by rail or by road and so we can get the product here or get it out of here cheaper and that's a great economic impact."

Schroedel adds. "There are all kinds of opportunities so I think by working together we can maximize those opportunities which is why we're out here talking together." Overall most here are optimistic, claiming just by starting the conversation their one step closer to solving the problems.

The Corps of Engineers says during this meeting they'll also focus on how to take care of the environment and protect the fishing and oyster industries.

 

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