Farmers react to water wars recommendation - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Farmers react to water wars recommendation

Flint River is main source of water supply for Southwest GA farmers. (Source: WALB) Flint River is main source of water supply for Southwest GA farmers. (Source: WALB)
Mike Newberry (Source: WALB) Mike Newberry (Source: WALB)
Georgia Cotton Commission Spokesperson Chris Chammoun (Source: WALB) Georgia Cotton Commission Spokesperson Chris Chammoun (Source: WALB)
Irrigation systems are critical to conserving water. (Source: WALB) Irrigation systems are critical to conserving water. (Source: WALB)
ARLINGTON, GA (WALB) -

A judicial official sided with Georgia in Florida's lawsuit over water rights. It was a big win for farmers in Southwest Georgia because agriculture is the state's number one industry, and it thrives on water. 

The Flint River is the primary source of water supply for Southwest Georgia farmers, and the crux of the how the decades-old water wars started. 

"Georgia may not come out quite as well as we did so we were very surprised, "said cotton farmer Mike Newberry.

Newberry was shocked the courts ruled in favor of Georgia.

The basin starts in Atlanta, flows through the state into the Florida panhandle into Apalachicola Bay.

"Georgia has the most to lose out of any type of consumptive cap," said Georgia Cotton Commission Spokesperson Chris Chammoun.

Chammoun applauded the special master for recommending the U.S. Supreme Court refuse Florida's request to cap Georgia's water use.

"Try to get the water to the ground as quickly as possible," remarked Newberry. 

Newberry has 23 irrigation systems to conserve water on his 850 acres of land 

"We're trying to keep up with the sprinkler technology now," explained Newberry, which can costs nearly $20,000. 

But could bring above average cotton yields. 

There are a million acres of cotton in the state, and about half of that is in the ACF basin. 

"Since the 1980s, our water use per pound of lint has actually decreased by 75 percent," said Chammoun.

But its not enough to put an end to the water wars.

"We have not heard the last of the issues with Florida," said Newberry. 

The Supreme Court will review the recommendation and make a final decision.  

But more lawsuits and legal actions are expected.

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