New Meetings Set for Sept 12, 2000
In response to stakeholder comments, Alabama has modified its December 2001 proposal of an agreement to manage the surface water resources in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa Basin. The revised proposal, released on July 6, has, according to Trey Glenn, Chief of Alabama’s Office of Water Resources (OWR), “improved and clarified” several provisions in the original proposal while providing “protection to the water resources of the State of Alabama.”
The revised proposal can be found at the OWR website at adeca.alabama.gov. Follow the links to OWR. Also on the website are a fact sheet on the revised proposal and an updated Frequently Asked Questions, both of which are very helpful in explaining aspects of the proposed formula.
Georgia negotiators have indicated now that there are some “minor modifications” needed in the Alabama proposal before Georgia will sign an ACT agreement. Bob Kerr, Georgia’s chief negotiator, told the Rome, Georgia News Tribune that Georgia will not sign the ACT agreement unless agreement is also reached on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) with both Florida and Alabama. Kerr links the two because Alabama’s primary interest is the ACT and Georgia wants to keep Alabama’s feet to the fire on the ACF.
Deadline Extended … Again. New Meeting Scheduled
Both the ACT and the ACF Commissions met in Atlanta on Monday, July 30 and, as expected, extended both compacts another 45 days to September 13, 2001. A meeting for both Commissions is now set for September 12th in Montgomery. If an ACF proposal is presented and accepted by the States of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, then it is expected that Alabama and Georgia will accept the ACT proposal. If that happens, then the proposal will be submitted to the public to review over a period of 60 days.
Alabama Briefs Georgia and Federal Agencies on Revised Proposal
At a meeting in Atlanta on July 9, Alabama and Georgia representatives answered questions from the federal agencies charged with evaluating the proposed agreement. Trey Glenn and Buddy Cox, counsel for the Alabama ACT Committee, cited the following major changes in the Alabama proposal:
- Changed wording to emphasize that minimum flows at Mayo’s Bar are not targets or ceilings.
- State of Alabama has initiated a detailed assessment of the impacts of the proposed formula to the water quality in Lake Weiss.
- Eliminated the 25% cap on consumption from any single basin. Wording now reads that consumptive water use must be “reasonable” under applicable law.
- Added an additional review at the 20-year point of the agreement.
- Provided for increased monitoring of biological and ecological data.
- Tightens requirement for management action during low flow conditions at Mayo’s Bar and calls for an updated water control plan from the Corps of Engineers.
- Narrowed the reasons for suspending the agreement, essentially delinking the ACT proposal from the ACF once the agreements are implemented.
OWR Says Study Citing 25% Consumption Cap “Flawed”
Glenn also addressed the study commissioned by the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Floyd County, Georgia that reviewed the December 13, 2001 proposal, particularly addressing the provision that allowed the 25% consumptive use of the annual average daily flow. If carried to its extreme, that provision would have allowed Georgia to withdraw up to over one billion gallons a day from the Coosa River. Glenn characterized that study as “flawed,” as having taken the 25% provision out of context, and as having disregarded the protections provided by other parts of the agreement. The new provision now provides no cap on the consumption by Georgia, relying instead on what the ACT Commission views as reasonable demand over the next 30 years.