U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has now committed to begin to update its outdated water control plan for the drought-ravaged river basin that serves Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, notified both senators by telephone that the Corps will start the process for updating the water control manual for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.
" The water control plans governing these two critical river basins are decades old and no longer serve the needs of the state of Georgia. It is imperative that we update the water control plan to reflect 21st century demand and usage," Isakson said. "The action taken by the Corps today is a good first step, but there is still much work to be done in order to achieve a more realistic and fair management of Georgia's water resources."
"The Corps of Engineers is required by federal statute and their own regulations to operate the reservoirs with up to date water control manuals," said Senator Chambliss. "However, for the ACF Basin, the only approved master manual was prepared in 1958 and does not even include the federal facilities at West Point, Walter F. George, or George W. Andrews. I was pleased to hear from Secretary Geren personally that the Corps is moving forward with updating these manuals, because it will allow the Corps to make smarter decisions in their management of these river systems. We have underscored to him how important this action is."
Isakson and Chambliss have continually worked to get Georgia, Florida and Alabama together and to force the Corp of Engineers to update a 20-year-old Water Control Plan for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basins. In 2006, Isakson and Chambliss held Senate hearings in Gainesville and Columbus to implore the Corps to keep its commitment to update its outdated water control plan for the two river basins.
On August 1, 2007, Isakson and Chambliss met with Geren as well as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works John Paul Woodley, Lieutenant General Robert L. Van Antwerp and General Counsel Craig Schmauder. At the meeting, Geren indicated his desire to give mediation time to work before starting the update of the water control manuals.
However, Geren gave his commitment to the senators that if and when mediation broke down and was not making progress, he would begin the update of the water control manuals. Geren's predecessor had committed to begin the update of the water control manuals on January 2, 2007, but failed to honor that commitment.
On September 28, 2007, after judges involved in the mediation announced that the talks had broken down, Isakson and Chambliss sent a letter to Geren strongly urging him to honor his pledge to update the water control plan.
On October 18, 2007, Woodley told both senators by telephone that the Corps will start the process for updating the water control manual for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin.
Alabama sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1990 to block the corps from giving metro Atlanta any more water out of Lake Lanier. Since then, Alabama, Florida and Georgia have made a number of unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a long-term agreement on how to share water.