Obama official won’t enter water war fray

By Kristi E. Swartz

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said it’s up to the governors of Georgia, Florida and Alabama to hash out the nearly 20-year long battle over who controls the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River.

“I do not see us as coming in and hammering heads and getting the deal done,” Salazar said at a news conference with Gov. Sonny Perdue on Wednesday after a helicopter tour of Lake Lanier.

Salazar is spending the day in Georgia to review the state’s water issues. Until recently, the state suffered from a record-setting three-year drought, which only heated up a 19-year water war between the three states.

That issue is now before the courts.

While Salazar said he considered water and the Southeast one of his “cardinal issues,” he was adamant about not stepping in and forcing a solution on how the three states should manage their water.

Perdue told reporters he thinks all three states would “be better served” with an allocation plan based on science.

After a morning news conference, Salazar headed to the Martin Luther King Jr. historical site. He will spend Thursday in Florida and said he will discuss the tri-state water issue with Gov. Charlie Crist.

44 comments Add your comment


May 27th, 2009
11:16 am

I don’t care how they handle it as long as they get someone at the Corp of Engineers who has a basic understanding of how to read a gauge – or is willing to listen to the local residents when they tell them they are letting out too much water based on past observations and that the gauge is broken – which it was.

The corp cannot continue to depend on incompetent “rangers” to read a broken gauge (and not know its broken!)and then tell us everything is all right, even while being told by long time residents that the water level is not right!

All I'm Saying Is...

May 27th, 2009
11:23 am

The only governor that would show leadership and figure out a solution is one that had no other political ambitions, was in their final term in office, and did not plan on retiring in their state! All kidding aside, now that the drought is over, the three state argument will continue unabated since the ‘water pressure’ is off. Man oh man, where’s an activitst judge when you need one? That is the only way this thing gets settled.

Billy Bob

May 27th, 2009
11:30 am

Perdue now all of the sudden believes in Science???

I thought all of this was is God’s hands???



May 27th, 2009
11:53 am

The solution to this matter lies – as it always has – in creation and execution of a regional (i.e., interstate) vision for economic growth and development. While this ‘water war’ has for 20 years been presented as a tri-state conflict on shared waters, at its core has always been each state’s concern about its separate – and often competing – future economic growth prospects in the face of the need to sustainably address associated aquatic environmental concerns. Among the informed there is little dispute that the 21st century economy of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and portions of other southeastern states in what’s being called the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion, is very much a connected future that’ll require extensive regional planning and cooperation as regards a number of infrastructure, natural resources, and human resources issues. The proper course to this 21st century future – for the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion – cannot be successfully navigated when the supposed tri-captains of the ship are continually at each others’ throats over the management of but one of the attributes the region must effectively manage.

So what’s needed, and not yet apparent anywhere on the horizon, if we’re to make reasonable progress toward this shared future for the megaregion? Clear and effective voices of leadership; the sort of leadership that we’ve not thus far seen demonstrated amongst elected officials from any of the involved states. Must this leadership necessarily rise from elected officials? No, absolutely not. We’ve a long history of true leadership emerging from points outside of those at the helm of elected government, with elected officials climbing aboard the wagon long after much of the difficult ground has been covered. But, it is what it is. One possible source of this leadership is the interstate business community; those who understand and appreciate that their best interests lay in fostering the development of a robust multi-state regional economy founded on attributes unique to the southeastern U.S (e.g., seaports well-connected to critical international transport corridors and markets, international and local airports, a fairly well developed highway network, a well-reticulated railway network, agreeable climate, fairly rapidly growing population, etc). That requires vision; vision of the sort we should expect from an informed business community.


May 27th, 2009
11:54 am

You want to solve the problem. Easy. Boycott Florida. Stop going there on vacation. Stay in Georgia or go to the Carolinas or Tennessee. If Florida is going to steal our water, don’t support their businesses. This year my family is vacationing in Myrtle Beach instead of Panama City for this very reason.


May 27th, 2009
12:06 pm

Suddenly Sonny wants something to be based on science, huh?


May 27th, 2009
12:25 pm

The problem here is the Army Corp of Bungalears. No one can resolve the issue with the Federal Government with them holding the keys. Between the EPA and Corp. nothing will get resolved and now they don’t want to be in the middle? Brought to you by the came people that gave use New Orleans’ Levies and drained the Everglades only to realize they shouldn’t have.

John York

May 27th, 2009
12:25 pm

I guess this is news to Florida. The then candidate Obama told Florida voters that their water needs would take priority if he was elected president. Of course, most people should have known this was just another empty campaign promise. Hopefully people are finally start to wake up from Obama-mania and realize that he’s just a politician and not the second coming.

Here’s a link to the story:



May 27th, 2009
12:33 pm

What a novel concept . . . letting states decide. Sounds almost Republi . . . wait, maybe Obama should have given the nod to Florida since he carried that state and neither of the other two. Now THAT IS Republican!

Bobby Slaton

May 27th, 2009
12:34 pm

I fail to understand why Florida or Alabama needs Georgia’s water! Florida, for crying out loud, has water on 3 sides with lakes, rivers and streams all over the state. It has oceans on 3 sides! It may be some of it is salt water but they must have heard of purifying – since they have a plant in Tampa.

I remember 2 years ago going to Destin and what screamed at me loudly was I left behind a very stiff water restriction and red banks showing on Lake Lanier, the river banks were overflowing in our neighboring states. FL & AL was watering their lawns and right-of-ways along the highways. The lawns in FL got watered every morning.

If the other states were really concerned about the water issue and their economy, wouldn’t it advantageous to open more water purification plants – seems to me that would help their declining economy by creating jobs and relieve the stress on Georgia’s water.

I’m all for being a good neighbor but let’s not give away the farm! I’m all for boycotting Florida on vacation time and let’s see what they have to say about water when that happens. As one writer put it consider Tennesee and Kentucky – anywhere but our 2 neighboring crying babies!


May 27th, 2009
12:34 pm

Florida is stealing water? Tell me how Florida can steal water from a state where they dammed up a river to create a man-made lake so Atlantans would have more waterfront lots to build subdivisions in the middle of nowhere. If any state is stealing water, it is Georgia. Boycott Florida? What a laugh. Have fun in Myrtle Beach, we’re going to Appalachicola for the world’s best oysters…. if there is still enough fresh water in the river to feed the oyster beds.


May 27th, 2009
12:39 pm

Let me get this right. Obama won’t decide and it’s Purdue’s fault. All the libs know how to do is bash. It’s a reflex.


May 27th, 2009
12:39 pm

Possession is 9/10 of the rule. Go Georgia!!

Gary, Gary, Gary...

May 27th, 2009
12:46 pm

…are you really that naive (or dumb) that you do not know that the rivers in the So. GA, AL, and FL area are overflowing at this time – that is why so little has been said about the slowing of the water from Lake Lanier this spring. And, if AL and FL had had foresight like GA did back in the 50’s, they would have built their own lake/reservoir for purposes of preserving water for now – so, yes, they ARE stealing water from GA to foster their “perceived” needs and shortsightedness!

Also, as a public service announcement to you and your family, you should know that no matter what level of fresh water feeds the Appalachicola oysters right now, you should NEVER eat oysters in May, June, July or August – NEVER – everybody, but you, knows you do not eat oysters in months that do not have the letter R in them.

history repeats

May 27th, 2009
12:48 pm

Perdue… Science… LOL–
Ga. republicans… Doing anything other than cutting taxes and restricting Atlanta’s home rule… Even funnier–
Lets all– right, left and in-between agree to kick these obstructionist, know-nothing, do-nothings out of office next time around…


May 27th, 2009
12:51 pm

No I am not naive or dumb, I graduated from UGA. (Tech fans hold your tongue) I am not as short-sided as you to think that just cause the rivers are flowing now, they will always. I can remember all the way back to last year, can you?

As for eating oysters this time of year, sorry dude, that’s an old wive’s tale. Its safe to eat oysters nearly year round as long as they are handled right. If you are really worried, just cook them. Read up on it. Save your PSA’s for things you know about.


May 27th, 2009
12:52 pm

Do we honestly think the Obama administration cares about a red state? This issue serves no purpose for him. He has all but ignored anything but blue states or a state capable of favoring his party in an election. If he stood a chance at benefitting from this issue he’d dare never do anything to endanger his own well being. Mr. Environmental is failing to act on a critical issue. This is a federal issue. This is an interstate matter that falls in the federal domain. State leaders have failed to resolve this and it is a federal agency at the head of the matter. It’s sad that a candidate who claimed to be above petty politics and called to change such tones is leading the charge on continuing such childish behavior. Obama can afford to backburner the issue because of rain. He’ll just let Republican governors fight each other and put this off to be someone else’s problem.

What gets me?

May 27th, 2009
1:06 pm

What gets me during the whole drought last year Florida and that whole Appalacicola region got tons of rain while we got squat and we still have to release the water them is B.S.. If Florida is getting drenched we should not have to release water.

Boycotting Florida nice idea too bad so many rich people in Atlanta have their 2nd homes in Destin AKA the Buckhead on the beach. If truth be known how many people own homes in Destin are from Georgia is quite funny. Good Luck. :)

Jesus Christ

May 27th, 2009
1:06 pm

Governor Perdue is such a goof. Must all Georgia governors be such hicks?

Because It Matters

May 27th, 2009
1:08 pm

This issue is another example of why Republicans are on the way out. Three Republican Governors need the federal government(gasp) to tell them what to do! Then when it says no, out come the Republican sycophants and their best efforts to spin this into something against President Obama!

What pieces of work you Republicans are..and now it’s about science too…lol!


May 27th, 2009
1:11 pm

True Science , NOT A THEORY IS FROM THE CREATOR,Who has written a book that is lasted the test of time and it is still the best selling book round.

Not a partisan issue

May 27th, 2009
1:13 pm

This dispute has been going on for decades! For most of that time, Alabama, Georgia and Florida have had Democrats for governor, not Republicans. Neither party has been able to work this out because it involves so many different interest groups and stakeholders. It’s silly to blame one party or one governor or one president when so many have tried to work this out. But if it makes you feel better, go for it.


May 27th, 2009
1:32 pm

“Water levels not right?” Well, if you actually want to restore the water levels to their “right” level, you would tear down the damn of this man-made hole and let the river restore the levels to what is “natural and right.”

Tired Bravesfan

May 27th, 2009
1:34 pm

Im waiting on the courts to say Atlanta cant use it for drinking water. People will die for lack of drinking water so the muscles can survive. Thats the government for you.


May 27th, 2009
1:34 pm

I know one thing, Lake Lanier should be off limits to ALL motorized boats and restricted to paddles / sails only. The boats leaking fuel and oil and tranny fluid are too numerous to count, not to mention the people throwing oil filters, fuel, fuel containers and who knows what else right into the lake. Glad I’m not drinking out of that giant fuel filter!


May 27th, 2009
1:42 pm

Ha ahahahahaha…you hicks in Georgia voted for the wrong candidate! No way is Obama going to help out the Republican racist Georgia good ole boy hillbillies! Obama is understands the environment is more important than helping stupid GA pals of Sonny Perdue overbuild an already unsustainable Atlanta. Those ignorant hicks were so busy trying to make $$$ they put their cart before their horse and forgot that you can’t build and build more homes without W-A-T-E-R. Now those developers are losing their A-$-$-E-S. hahahaha…So glad Florida voted for Obama! You Georgia rednecks just haven’t gotten the memo, and the longer you idiots vote blind republican even though the republican party is screwing you, the longer you will have to suffer. Wake up and smell the coffee. The days of republicans saying “prayer in school” and “no more abortions” and “terrorist” and getting elected are O-V-E-R. Republicans are on the way out. Stay loyal to the morons and suffer or get with the program of the future and make our world better. When you turn on your tap and nothing comes out, YOU’LL GET THE MESSAGE.


May 27th, 2009
1:45 pm

Hey, wait a minute, I thought our esteemed Guvenor asked the (his) Almighty for Deliverance from the Hated Drought. Now that the Big One’s allowed the rains to flow, what’s this nonsense about science taking part in avoiding a future catastrophe? The very thought!


May 27th, 2009
1:51 pm

Science? What is that? Like EVOLUTION or something? Nope. republicans don’t “do” science. Maybe get Chambliss or Isakson to call up Obama and ask for help! HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!
Maybe all you rednecks will choke on your own ignorance and name-calling!


May 27th, 2009
1:52 pm

Obama doesn’t get it. He needs to save the 3 states from their own governors lest they pull the entire region down into economic oblivion over this silly water dispute.


May 27th, 2009
2:11 pm


Not fair

May 27th, 2009
2:14 pm

Alabama and Florida have nothing to lose. They are driving Atlanta to the economic brink just for kicks. Perdue should send the National Guard up to Buford Dam and take it over.

ARE you kidding me?

May 27th, 2009
2:38 pm

Gary, What the heck is “short-sided”. Maybe you meant “short-sighted”. No wonder the you have to call off the Tech folks. You make us UGA folks look bad in opinion and grammar.


May 27th, 2009
2:41 pm

How come no mention that the biggest water user is the power plant(s) on the river -?
How come when we needed to conserve water, no mention of conserving power as a MUCH more effective measure?
How come a refusal to consider anyone but one’s self?
Atlanta is driving itself to the brink, one self-serving contractor at a gimme-tax-break time. All those cars, no $$ for roads (what, tax us for what we use? Communists!), and no tax dollars to local coffers either.
Florida’s glut of second and third homes has a nice radial spike coming from our dear Metro…

Gary, Gary, Gary...

May 27th, 2009
2:53 pm

…that UGA education is showing – it is short SIGHTED, not “short sided” (though that may be part of your problem, but that is another story for another day). And, no, I am not a Tech grad.

You said ” if there is still enough fresh water in the river to feed the oyster beds”; my comment regarding the amount of water available this year responded to what you wrote, and it had nothing to do with remembering back to last year.

And, you are correct about eating oysters if they are cooked, yet I will rely on that old “wives tale” – I have read about too many people who got sick and/or died from bad oysters – but you go ahead and have fun at Steinhatchee and Applachicola!

Finally, wasn’t Perdue the first Republican governor of GA since forever? Roy Barnes (4 years), Zell Miller(8 years – though he wanted to be a Republican) Joe Frank Harris (8 years), George Busby (8 years), Lester Maddox (8 years), and those before him) were all Democrats!


May 27th, 2009
2:54 pm

Gary…Two years ago at the height of the drought twice as much water was flowing OUT of Lanier as into it. Florida was getting twice as much water as it would have gotten naturally during such a severe drought. In other words, Georgians were sending their stored up water to Florida so the mussels could survive. All the while we were cutting water usage by 20% and Floridians were watering as if there were no tomorrow. I’m with the folks above. I decided to boycott Florida a long time ago. If they want to cut off our water then I certainly won’t spend a dime in that state. After all of those years of helping Floridians out when they have had hurricanes they respond to our natural disaster not by being helpful, but by attempting to cut off our water completely! It is difficult for me to comprehend their viewpoint, or to understand why Atlantans would spend any money in Florida. True, we are only 5 million strong, but we could make our voices heard!

Courtney Allen

May 27th, 2009
3:04 pm

What this disagreement is focused on was the release of Lake Lanier water during the drought between Aug 2007 and Dec 31 2007 which severly dropped the level from 1068 – 1051 in five months.

In the Corp meeting in Cumming, GA in May 2008, Col. Jorgenson clearly admitted the release was to meet EPD requirements of minimum 5,000 CFS at Watts Dam on Lake Seminole for endangered mussels, even though no study supported this requirement and that it would take 3 years to study the problem(He said that 5000 CFS was simply the 50 year historical minimum norm). So during the drought Lanier had to produce the water for this 5000 CFS. Furthermore, they admitted that the water load in Atlanta was not the cause of the dropping lake level. During that period, 90% of the water released totally bypassed Atlanta.

Many people have their life savings in the properties and businesses on the lake. Many have their life savings, retirements and their children’s education tied to their property value on the lake. Certainly anyone in their right mind would not value a worm or a useless mussel above 20,000 lake home owners and their life savings. Obviously the EPD plan is flawed. The mussles have been in Florida an esimated 250,000 years — that’s a fact, and they certainly have suffered many droughts, not just the recent on last year. The damn was built just 50 years ago.

Certainly infrastructure projects in Alabama and Florida need to be done. Look at a map of Alabama and you can see it is covered with lakes and rivers. Florida is surrounded by water. To this point NOTHING has been done to solve this problem.

If I had a fellow Floridian in the same position, I would simpathize. I would say “Georgia, build some infrastructure. Talk about wise usage of Stimulus $$$ !!!

Courtney Allen

May 27th, 2009
3:19 pm

Midtowner — FYI. 98% of the water useage for the power plants such as Plant McDonough are supplied for turbine steam condesation and reactor cooling heat transfer. All of this water is returned to the river but at elevated temps. The corp meeting clearly stated that during 8-07 and 12-31-07, the poewr plants were simply along for the ride. The 5,000 CFS at Watts dam was for endangered mussels.

I suggest everyone concerned with this problem attend future corp meetings. Visit their website. Or you can call Consumer Affairs Dept. in the Mobile Corp. office. They are very receptive to your comments and questions. If you see an abnormal release while driving over the dam, say during a rainy month, call them and they will call the dam operator to see what is the reason and will call you back with an explanation. Don’t believe me? Make a quick call. They are listed in Directory Assistance, Mobile, Ala.

Courtney Allen

May 27th, 2009
3:31 pm

TO WHAT GETS ME— The problem with Florida is it is flat and can’t contain dammed water without spreading out over many many square miles. Alabama has a more hilly topography which makes for good dams. Alabama has massive unused fresh water. Florida has salt water filter plants already. The problem is they don’t want to spend the money for this problem. They want Georgia to pay all expenses which is clearly unfair. Any judge of character can see into this wrong doing. The federal government should step in and help the region. What about stimulus money? We’re talking multi billions and billions of dollars here.


May 27th, 2009
4:03 pm

Floridian, You really think that Obama is going to make the world better? thats a laugh! He is going to do a bunch of things and none of them will be good. Increase taxes (but you don’t make enough to see that) Increase engery cost, Make the country less safe and have us all driving in little plastic piece of crap cars! Wow sounds like fun!!!!

Read This

May 27th, 2009
4:07 pm

I thought republicans were in favor of state’s rights. 3 republican governors and they can’t figure it out. You get what you vote for.


May 27th, 2009
5:06 pm

The solution is simple: in times of drought, Florida and Alabama will not be allocated more flow from Georgia than would naturally occur if the Georgia reservoirs did not exist. The notion that reservoirs in Georgia should be drained in times of drought to maintain an *unnatural* and *artificial* environment in Florida and Alabama is absurd. Given the droughts of the last few decades, those Apalachicola oysters would have died out quite *naturally* if not for the *artificial* environment created by excessive discharges from Lanier and the other Georgia reservoirs.

Hydropower — one of the original purposes for which these dams were built — means power generated from the gravitational flow of water. It DOES NOT mean cooling water for coal-fired plants (Florida) or nuclear plants (Alabama). The problem here is not Atlanta’s water consumption, and never has been. The problem is the perverted notion that water in Georgia’s reservoirs should be used to artificially reengineer the natural environment in Florida and Alabama during times of drought. Again, the solution is simple: in times of drought, Florida and Alabama should not be allocated more flow from Georgia than would naturally occur if the Georgia dams did not exist. Indeed, if that fair and common sense approach had been taken during the last 3 years, Lanier would have never been stressed and would be at full pool right now.


May 27th, 2009
7:17 pm


[...] Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said it’s up Georgia, Florida and Alabama to hash out a conclusion … [...]

[...] Salazar was headed next to Florida and a visit there with Governor Charlie Crist. [see Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, May 27] [...]