Water Wars Continue to Heat Up Across Georgia

Georgia Governor, Sonny Perdue, issued a deadline of today for the US Army Corps of Engineers to agree to a plan to reduce the amount of water released from the state's shrinking lakes and rivers.  He is threatening to take legal action if the corps does not comply.

Each day, the Corps of Engineers releases millions of gallons of Georgia's water downstream to Alabama and Florida. It's part of a federal mandate through the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species in the Apalachicola River. Columbus Water Works Vice President, Bob Tant, agrees with the governor's position that the current system is flawed.

"Essentially we've got about 5,000 cubic feet per second being released into the Apalachicola, and only about two to three thousand CFS coming into the entire Chattahoochee watershed," Tant said.

CSU Environmental Science professor, Dr. Troy Keller, says that if the Corps does reduce the amount of water flow, it will have an impact on the Chattahoochee Valley.

"As water levels are being reduced in terms of how much water is being released through the system, we're going to see less and less of that water actually getting here to Columbus. We will notice even more of that land exposed in the river and the levels in our reservoirs could fall as well," Dr. Keller explained.

But that impact will be much less severe than the situation Atlanta is facing now. Bob Tant says that if the state's waterways don't stop releasing more water than they take in, the Chattahoochee will continue to shrink anyway.

"If they need to go back to the Fish and Wildlife service, who have called upon the Corps to release that 5,000, they need to do it right now. They need to do it yesterday," Tant said.

Officials with the Corps of Engineers have said they are not opposed to changing the flow of water, but that they would be in violation of federal law if they reduce it now under Governor Perdue's mandate.  We're still waiting on a response from the Governor.  Of course we'll continue to follow this situation very closely.