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Corps releases feedback report on water manual
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed revising a report that documents public input on the corps’ plans to produce an updated Master Water Control Manual for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.

The 100-page report, prepared by Atlanta firm Tetra Tech, describes comments the corps received during a public input period in fall 2008, particularly during hearings held in Georgia, Alabama and Florida, the three states that make up the basin.

One of the five hearings took place Oct. 29, 2008, in Gainesville, drawing 401 people, according to the report.

The corps reopened the public comment process last fall, triggered by a July 17 court ruling that Georgia was not authorized to use Lake Lanier for drinking water. Judge Paul Magnuson allowed withdrawals by Gainesville but at much outdated levels.

The ruling also gave Georgia three years to seek congressional authorization for withdrawals or work out a deal with Florida and Alabama.

“The reopened scoping period provided the public an opportunity to submit comments on the significant new information and circumstances introduced by the ... court order,” the report states.

Many agencies and governments, including Hall County and the Lake Lanier Association, have submitted comments.

The updated manual is expected to be completed in three years, replacing one that was developed in 1958, or shortly after the formation of Lake Lanier.

It “must prescribe plans of operation for congressionally authorized and general statutory project purposes in the basin, while taking into account private, community, social and economic needs and sound environmental stewardship,” the report states.

The process also will involve the corps completing an “environmental impact statement,” which “will provide supporting documentation for a decision on implementing a (manual) update.”

A draft of the environmental document could be ready for public review in spring 2011, according to the report. Public meetings will be held on that report.

In the meantime, Georgia is working to address future water needs.

In January, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for Georgia’s attorneys to challenge Magnuson’s ruling. Also, the governors of Georgia, Alabama and Florida have vowed to solve the tri-state water war before their terms are over at the end of this year.

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