Water Wars Continues: LaGrange Files Brief in Columbus Lawsuit

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  The one thing everyone can agree on-- the Army Corps of Engineers needs to get together a water plan for droughts as quickly as possible.

In a friend of the court brief filed on Friday, it's now evident, though, that LaGrange and Columbus have agreed to disagree over what they see as acceptable river flows.

"Everyone has to protect their interests, and what they see best serves those interests," said Columbus Water Works President Bob Tant.

For LaGrange, their main interest is preserving West Point lake levels.

For Columbus, it's getting ready for future population growth, and being able to properly treat and dilute its wastewater, which will take increased flows coming down the Chattahoochee from the north.

"We characterize them to be modest, and they are modest. Those flows will not drain West Point Lake," said Tant.

LaGrange city leaders feel otherwise, challenging Columbus's right to certain flows, and labeling their demands "a water grab."

Their brief even calls into question whether Columbus's water quality is an authorized purpose of West Point Lake...but Columbus leaders are standing strong.

"Lake Lanier is an example. It serves as the water supply for more than half of the population for the state, but if you look at its authorized purposes, water supply not among those. Does that mean water supply shouldn't be considered? We don't believe that," said Tant.

Columbus leaders are determined to fight for those increased flows, or else it could mean more money being shelled out by the company as well as taxpayers in the long run.

"If flows don't support water quality, we will have to invest millions of dollars into the plant," said Tant.

The actual day of reckoning--Monday, May 11th.

That's when all the parties involved in the Water Wars lawsuit will present oral arguments to a federal judge in Jacksonville, FL.

Representatives from Columbus Water Works will be there to represent the city and the Middle Chattahoochee region.