Federal Judge Hears Arguments in Tri-state Water War

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BIRMINGHAM - A federal judge in Alabama heard arguments Monday in a three-state dispute over how much water should be released into Florida from the Chattahoochee River.

U-S District Judge Karon Bowdre of Birmingham is trying to decide whether to tell the U-S Army Corp of Engineers to release more or less water from the Woodruff Lock and Dam at Lake Seminole, which is formed by the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.

An interim agreement in the water dispute expired Monday. That agreement, reached June 30th, created a storage pool Florida officials could use to release water and protect endangered freshwater mussels and other species.

It was a temporary solution to a dispute that arose when the Chattahoochee's water level was increased 60 percent last month to protect the Florida mussels. Alabama and Georgia officials were concerned they wouldn't have enough water upstream for their needs.

Florida filed a motion Friday asking Bowdre to increase the water level by 26 percent when the agreement expires. Alabama is also named as a plaintiff on the motion. Both states described the motion as a step toward refining a permanent agreement.