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Water war lands in lap of scientists
Local Public Utilities director makes case at academy of sciences
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Gainesville Public Utilities Director Kelly Randall addressed the National Academy of Sciences on Friday in Washington, asking the academy to let “good science” solve the issue of how water should be distributed in the Chattahoochee River basin.

“We believe the attorneys have spent many years wrestling over this issue, but to no avail,” Randall told the academy in a prepared statement. “It is time to roll up our sleeves and dig into the technical details and let the chips fall where they may. Good science must prevail.”

Randall spoke to the academy on the behalf of the City Council, stressing the city’s “vested interest in an in-depth, independent, scientific study of the Chattahoochee River system.”

The pending study is a scientific approach to solving an 18-year-old dispute over water between Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Numerous lawsuits are pending in federal court over the states’ battle to retain more water from the Chattahoochee-Flint-Apalachicola system, which includes Lake Lanier.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama proposed the study in October during his presidential campaign as the answer to the tangle of litigation between the three states over how water from the basin should be shared.

Randall told the academy Friday that Gainesville had a long history — more than 100 years — of responsibly using the resources of the Chattahoochee River.

“We do not believe any use trumps all others,” Randall said. “... Gainesville also believes, because of our long history and stewardship, we should have — and actually deserve — a role in developing a solution to this complex problem.”

Others scheduled to appear before the academy were state Environmental Protection Division Director Carol Couch and other utility directors from metro Atlanta municipalities.