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Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 9:49am

Water Dispute Before Federal Judge

Georgia’s ongoing water tussle with Alabama is in the hands of a federal judge. The states have filed their updates on negotiations over Lake Allatoona, northwest of Atlanta. It’s a lesser-known lawsuit that’s been overshadowed by the dispute over Lake Lanier.

Alabama has been challenging Georgia’s use of the Lake Allatoona reservoir for decades.

Georgia’s lawyer Bruce Brown says communities north of Atlanta contract with the Army Corps of Engineers to supply drinking water.

“Lake Allatoona currently supports withdrawals for Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority. Georgia maintains the withdrawals are lawful and the Corps isn’t doing anything wrong,” says Brown.

But Alabama says the county is taking twice as much as is legal, and it’s hurting cities and industries downstream especially in times of drought.

The case has been on hold for several years, pending negotiations. Georgia wants to prolong the suspension. Alabama wants the case to resume in court. Both parties go before a Birmingham judge next week to decide what happens next.

Meanwhile, Friday is the deadline for Alabama to appeal the latest court decision over Lake Lanier. It was favorable to Georgia, securing Atlanta’s drinking water source. Alabama is asking for a rehearing by the full court.