(March 4, 1:15 p.m.) Despite intervention by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne, six months of negotiations on water among state officials from Alabama, Georgia and Florida have fallen apart, according to a report from The Associated Press. What effect, if any, the failed talks will have on southeast U.S. fresh produce production remains uncertain.
Telephone calls to agriculture officials in the three states and to the Department of Interior were not returned Monday.
The talks, which began last fall, focused on water rights in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint and the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basins. Those water rights have caused friction among the states for more than two decades. The river basins run south through Georgia into Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
To serve the city’s growing population, Georgia is trying to retain more water in reservoirs near Atlanta, according to the AP report. Florida and Alabama officials maintain their states should not suffer because Georgia failed to plan adequately for Atlanta’s growth.
Without water from the northern river basins, the officials said rivers in Georgia and Florida could dry up, creating hardships for power plants, smaller cities and industry.