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Basin group moves forward on water plan

POSTED: April 14, 2014 11:42 p.m.

A private group with a vested interest in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin has asked its consultants to begin drafting a water management plan for the basin.

A data-based plan for the basin, which straddles Georgia, Florida and Alabama, has been the ACF Stakeholders’ primary goal since its creation five years ago.

“After four years of research, modeling and study, we are looking forward to beginning the process of writing a Sustainable Water Management Plan for the ACF river basin,” Board Chairman Jim McClatchey said.

“Our priorities remain focused on balancing the needs of all the basin’s stakeholders in a sustainable and equitable way while also creating a framework for adapting the plan as needs change over time.”

Water sharing has long been a thorny issue among the three states, prompting a flurry of lawsuits over the past couple of decades in what have been dubbed “water wars.”

Much of the debate has focused on Lake Lanier, which, as part of the Chattahoochee basin, serves as the main drinking water source for metro Atlanta.

The latest legal action was a suit filed Oct. 1 in the U.S. Supreme Court by Florida, alleging increased water consumption by Georgia had limited flows into Apalachicola Bay and wrecked the oyster industry.

The ACF Stakeholders was officially formed in 2009, largely in response to the bickering.

The group’s hope has been to produce water-sharing recommendations it could present to the states and the Army Corps of Engineers, which governs Lake Lanier and is working on a court-ordered water control manual update for the basin.

The ACF Stakeholders has raised more than $1.5 million for the plan.

Meeting last week in Apalachicola, Fla., an ACF Stakeholders work group agreed to get consultants from Black & Veatch to draft the plan, which relies on data produced by the Georgia Water Resources Institute at Georgia Tech and Atkins Global.

“We are thrilled this is moving forward and are anxious to see results,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association.

The draft is due this summer, with the final plan possibly released this fall.

The work group’s action took place in a closed session.

The governing board voted in December to keep data and other technical information secret until the full plan is developed.

The ACF Stakeholders, which has tried to clamp down on information since the Florida suit, includes people with a wide range of interests, including water quality, recreation and the seafood industry, from throughout the basin.

Wilton Rooks of the Lake Lanier Association was one of the original members and is an executive committee member.


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