Governors Seek to Work Through Water Differences

WASHINGTON (AP) - Georgia, Florida and Alabama may be close to at least a temporary answer to their sticky water-sharing situation.

The Army Corps of Engineers would hold back more water in Georgia lakes while the governors of the states work toward a water sharing agreement -- under a plan brokered today by the Bush administration.

The proposal was announced after the governors of the three states met with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and other administration officials.

The decision to reduce river flows into Florida and Alabama during an extreme drought still must win approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That's because of the potential impact on several species of mussels and sturgeon that live downstream and are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Officials said the agency would issue its biological opinion on the change within two weeks.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue said he's grateful for the relief.

But Perdue and other Georgia leaders have been criticized by environmentalists who say the current water crisis is largely the fault of Atlanta's uncontrolled sprawl and a resulting demand for more resources.

All four senators and both governors from Georgia and Alabama participated in the morning meeting in Washington, which aides described as tense.

The lawmakers say the session was "productive," even though leaders from Florida, which also is embroiled in the dispute, did NOT attend.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)