Deadline Looms in Tri-state Water Debate

ATLANTA (AP) - Officials from Georgia, Alabama and Florida say they are hopeful they will be able to meet a deadline this month to come up with a plan to settle an 18-year battle over sharing water.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Sarah Williams tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that officials hope to have a plan by February 15th.

A spokesman for Alabama Governor Bob Riley says he expects at least "something of a compromise" even if all the issues aren't resolved by then.

A spokesman for Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue says the deadline
is still doable.

Georgia Environmental Protection Division Director Carol Couch would say only that staffers from the three states and federal representatives have met twice in January.

The issue has been how much water to send downstream to Florida from Georgia's Lake Lanier at a time when metro Atlanta and north Georgia are experiencing a record-setting drought. Georgia's main objective is to keep as much water in Lanier as possible.

Florida's primary concern is getting enough water from Georgia's Chattahoochee and Flint rivers to flow into its Apalachicola River to protect threatened and endangered species and maintain the seafood and recreational fishing industries in Apalachicola Bay.

Alabama shares the Chattahoochee with Georgia on part of its eastern border. It is much more interested in how much water is flowing down the Coosa River.

The Coosa basin provides water to much of Alabama for hydropower and recreational lakes, to float barges, and for drinking water and farm irrigation.

Alabama also wants enough water flowing down the Chattahoochee to run a nuclear power plant near Dothan.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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