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Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 3:00pm

Corps Claims Authority Over Drinking Water

A federal agency says it has the legal authority to give Georgia more water from a disputed reservoir, though it has not made a final decision on how much to release.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in documents released Tuesday that it has the legal ability to give metro Atlanta communities access to 705 million gallons of water per day from Lake Lanier on the Chattahoochee River to meet needs through 2030.

That reservoir is the focus of a long-running legal dispute between Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

In 2009, a federal judge ruled that metro Atlanta had little right to Lake Lanier and threatened to significantly curtail water withdrawals.

But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed aside that decision.

Governor Nathan Deal says the Corps' decision helps Georgia plan for the future.

"Ultimately, deciding how much of Lake Lanier can be allocated for drinking water supply is the most important determination facing Georgia, the metro Atlanta region and our neighboring ACF basin states." Deal said. "That decision will help us not only plan for Georgia's future growth, but it will also give us greater certainty
regarding existing resources. This will help set the parameters for discussions regarding a resolution with our neighboring states."

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