Alabama, Florida and Georgia: A Tri-State Tug-of-War for Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier water DisputeRead November 28th, 2009 update here.

A federal judge forces Alabama, Florida and Georgia to settle 20-year old disputes on shared Lake Lanier, while Congress solidifies the order with a US Army Corps of Engineers water study request.

Last week Congress passed a spending bill that could solidify a federal judge’s ruling concerning the tri-state allocation of a reservoir created 54 years ago, reported Georgia Public Broadcasting. According to the Associated Press, Alabama, Florida and Georgia have argued over the legal water rights of Lake Lanier since the early 1990’s.

Now Congress is mandating the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study water usage over the next 120 days on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint and the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa basins. Located in northern Georgia, Lake Lanier was created by a dam on the Chattahoochee River for hydroelectricity and flood control. Most critical yields of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint and the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa Basins will be studied, except for drinking water withdrawals–which is bad news for Atlanta.

Judge Paul Magnuson’s July ruling gave Atlanta’s 3.5 million residents three years to find a new main water supply. According to Magnuson’s ruling, Lake Lanier was not built for the magnitude of such withdrawals. On Monday, the Minnesota judge again solidified his decision as he refused to acknowledge an appeal filed by the state of Georgia, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and the city of Atlanta, according to the Atlanta Journalism-Constitution .

“It will either be used for purposes of the ongoing litigation, or it will be used as an argument that human consumption should not be considered in the resolution of this issue between these three states,” said U.S. Representative Nathan Deal, R-Georgia, to the House, reported

“To spend Corps dollars calculating something that does not take into account the right of people to drink the water that is in their state is unrealistic, and is a true waste of Federal money,” Deal added.

Read more here, here, here, and here.

Water Energy Facts U.S. Hydropower Hydroelectric Dam River United States Choke Point

2 replies
  1. Mellman says:

    Look at the pictures of Lake Lanier during the drought 2 years ago. It’s level was lowered a lot more than the other lakes in the area because Atlanta was pulling so much water from it. That alone should have been a heads up for Atlanta that it needed to focus on securing an alternate water supply.

    The water taken by Atlanta from Lake Lanier is not all used for drinking. A big portion of the water has been lost to leaks and wasted. A lot of it is also used for industrial purposes.

  2. Donna Hoffman says:

    Can’t there be any other means to address the problem? Can’t people try to meet in the middle and work hand in hand to solve this dispute? Dispute would only get to nowhere. Could you be happier if you know that at the end of the dispute, one’s life made was better and other was a disaster or worst?

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