Florida's Water War
Just when thing were heating up in Washington along comes Florida's Fearless Leader in filling a lawsuit suing the state of Georgia over its consumption of fresh water. It has been for quite some time that a tri state system for water consumption has been a focal point of debate. This legal action comes on the heals of the latest federal governments shutdown. No surprise hear either. But, with the contentious Governor Scott at the helm in Florida, another Republican flag bearer, this move brings attention to Florida's own water woes. Needless to say Florida has been in a dismal state when it comes to supplying enough water to meet the needs of the states increasing population. But, this legal action is just an escalation in an on going legal dispute that has lasted for years.
This past August Florida's illustrious Governor initiated the move to have the Supreme court try to force the state of Georgia into equitably share water that flows downstream from Georgia into Alabama and finally reaching Florida. A political ploy considering and election year is fast approaching. But, his intention was to gain support from the oystermen that operate out of the Gulf Cost. For years the oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay has been suffering a near almost total collapse. When federal officials declared the Apalachicola Bay fishery a disaster for oystermen it signaled that the amount of fresh water had fallen over the span of years. The problem stems from the fact that oysters need a mix of fresh and salt water in order to thrive. The contention form Florida's Governor is that Georgia has refused to fairly share the water that flows between the two states. To stop Georgia's so-called unmitigated consumption of water Florida is bringing this matter before the US Supreme court. A little short sighted when our state of Florida continues to have a continued shortage of fresh water.
Florida and Alabama have each sought relief from harm caused by reduced flows and increased Georgia consumption in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basins over the past 20 years through legal challenges, without success. Florida now proposes to address the problem squarely head on. This legal action filed with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking injunctive relief against Georgia's unmitigated and unsustainable upstream consumption of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint River Basins many say is long overdue. Others say that Florida needs to be better equipped to handle all the waste water from when ever there are storms. In the Tampa Bay area there as always been an over 95% of water run off into the bay when ever it rains. In practically every city and town in the state of Florida and most likely in practically every city and town in the United States continue to waste what fresh water they have. Just think if cities had better sewer systems that rerouted rain run offs into waste water treatment facilities, reservoirs, and holding tanks then there would be adequate fresh water for all.
Apalachicola River water levels are impacted by withdrawals from the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers at all times. The Metro-Atlanta area primarily obtains its water from the Chattahoochee River, with withdrawals totaling 360 million gallons per day. Georgia's consumption is expected to nearly double to approximately 705 million gallons per day by 2040, as Atlanta's population and associated water withdrawals grow unchecked. That estimated daily consumption represents the approximate water volume of the entire Apalachicola Bay on an annual basis.
Historically-low water levels brought about by Georgia's excessive consumption have caused oysters to die because of higher salinity, increased disease and predator intrusion in the Bay. Until recently, Apalachicola Bay accounted for approximately 10 percent of the nation's Eastern oyster supply. However, the oyster industry in Apalachicola collapsed in 2012 after years of reduced flows of freshwater into the Bay, leading Governor Scott to seek and obtain a Commercial Fisheries Disaster Declaration from the U.S. Department of Commerce earlier this year.
What is happening is that both Georgia and Florida are to blame for the ecological disaster in the Apalachicola Bay. When ever two growing states like Georgia and Florida continue to squander, waste and pollute what rain water provides their will be many more ecological disasters occurring. To prevent and to reclaim the Apalachicola Bay for the oystermen what is need is an infrastructure in place to harness water run offs for municipalities water consumption. In this way the flow of water much of which won't be diverted into metropolitan areas. Instead most of the river will continue to supply more freshwater into Apalachicola bay. The biggest hurdle is the funding for infrastructure development. But, when it comes the life's blood of all living things, fresh water, it is a no brainier that the availability of fresh water be made available. To facilitate the availability of fresh water like the state of Minnesota did some years back when they built a water pipe that transferred water from snow run offs and with Minnesota's name sake "the land of ten thousand lakes" combined continue to have enough fresh water all through-out the state.
Here we are today with the country almost paralyzed with this government shutdown and the continuation of this past government sequester. It is this sequester happened as a result of the Republicans in their zeal to reign in this nations debt. The results though have been disastrous. For some time the result continues to undermine the United States national security, the overall economy, and each states ability to foster more financial stability. The list goes on but, nevertheless with a congress that has put the breaks on most of the funding that would allow more infrastructure development such as upgrading fresh water transfer facilities and sewer systems that would harness more rain water many more states like Florida and Georgia will face dire effects from the lack of fresh water. Not to mention a continued disruption in ecosystems that have an enormous impact on local economics as well.
We must realize that the federal government really doesn't have a spending problem as so many Tea Party Republicans claim. What we have been experiencing in the United States for the past 30 years is an actual drain of personal incomes. The middle class has disappeared leaving the majority of Americas so impoverished it really is unconscionable. But, when the need to retain and move fresh water to where it is needed without disrupting ecosystems in the process it is imperative that the infrastructure is put in place to do so. And, that requires up front funding which will create jobs which in turn will generate taxes which in turn will help support the infrastructure development in the first place. When this is accomplished there will be no need to sue another state to reclaim fresh water that has destroyed an ecosystem that is vital not only for wild life but for economies as well.