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Water basin group to meet for first time at Lake Lanier
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Wilton Rooks of Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Stakeholders talks about the group’s work.

ACF meeting

When: June 17-18

Where: Lake Lanier Legacy Lodge and Conference Center, Lake Lanier Islands

Contact: acfstakeholders.org

A tri-state river basin group formed two years ago to find common ground amid touchy water-sharing issues plans to hold its first meeting at Lake Lanier next month.

The governing board of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Stakeholders is set to gather June 17-18 at the Lake Lanier Legacy Lodge and Conference Center on Lake Lanier Islands.

Wilton Rooks, chairman of the group’s executive committee, said  since the group’s February meeting, “several work groups have been working on some critical issues” concerning the ACF watershed.

Their work has included:

  • Defining and exploring factors that affect the current and future sustainability of the watershed.
  • Completing an inventory of available hydrologic models used by various organizations.
  • Documenting the needs of 14 different water usage categories.
  • Exploring the need for future consultants to work with the organization.

“The goal will be to synthesize and integrate all those ... results of the work groups into a plan to go forward,” Rooks said.

“The exact nature of that plan won’t be determined until the meeting.”

Past meetings, which have taken place in Albany and Apalachicola, Fla., have been open to the public.

“Observers are welcome to come sit in the meeting,” Rooks said.

The entire membership consists of “people in organizations throughout the watershed,” with the governing board composed of 56 water users.

The group began forming in 2008 after various people with a vested interest in the basin became frustrated over the 18-year stalemate between Georgia, Florida and Alabama concerning water usage.

In August, one month after a federal judge ruled Georgia wasn’t authorize to use Lake Lanier as a drinking source, 20 users of the rivers met to complete a charter and bylaws for what would become ACF Stakeholders, which has the motto “Working together to share a common resource.”

“So far, the group has been very gentle and nice with each other,” Rooks said.

“The challenge is going to materialize in this (June) meeting because this is really the first (time when) some of the contentious issues are going to be discussed and openly decided upon.”

The group doesn’t expect wholesale agreement on Lanier’s water storage during a drought, such as the historic two-year event that ended last year.

“We know there are issues that can’t be overcome,” Rooks said.

“However, there are decisions and issues in the watershed that will benefit everybody, and those are the kinds of things we want to focus on.”

Regional events