BY KRISTI E. SWARTZ
Gov. Sonny Perdue said the state would take a multi-pronged attack in challenging a federal judge’s decision that prohibits Georgia from using Lake Lanier as its primary water supply.
Flanked by business and civic leaders on the steps of the governor’s mansion, Perdue backed away from immediately trying to come to an agreement with the governors of Florida and Alabama — saying instead he wants to make Congress understand that Georgia’s water issue should be one of national concern.
“Water supply is a national issue,” Perdue said.
Standing next to Perdue was Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, appearing publicly for the first time since having spinal surgery.
Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been fighting for 19 years over how to use water that comes from the Apalachiocola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin. A judge ruled last Friday that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been illegally reallocating water from Lake Lanier to meet metro Atlanta’s needs.
He gave the states three years to work out a plan, which must be approved by Congress.
Perdue met Thursday morning with business and government leaders to discuss the judge’s ruling and what it meant for the state. Speaking on behalf of the business community, Perdue said executives were not frustrated with his plans.
“They understand the gravity of the situation,” he said.
Perdue announced an “impact team” that includes business officials, local government leaders and representatives from state agencies. He has chosen Georgia Power President and CEO Michael Garrett to head up that team.
Georgia Power is owned by Atlanta-based Southern Co., which also owns utilities in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Perdue reiterated his plans to “vigorously” appeal the judge’s decision while also looking for other ways to get and store water.