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Monday, May 20, 2013 - 5:00am

Water Negotiator's Conflicting Roles

One of Georgia's negotiators in a tri-state water dispute is president of a lobbying firm that has sought to develop a technology touted as a partial solution to that feud.

A top state official and others say the situation could look like a conflict even though it is legal.

Allen Barnes previously led Georgia's Environmental Protection Division. He is now president and CEO of Joe Tanner and Associates. That lobbying firm gets paid $5,000 a month for Barnes' work as a negotiator in a water conflict with Alabama and Florida.

Until last week, the firm was going to be hired in a project testing technology to store water underground. Project supporters say it could help ease the tri-state conflict.

Barnes says his roles do not constitute a conflict.