Infrastructure / On the water frontThe (water) war between the states

Published 21 April 2008

Florida governor speaks out against federal water plan

Most people refer to the mid-nineteenth century war between the North and South as the Civil War, but Southerners, in the aftermath of the war, always preferred the term the “War Between the States.” Beginning in 1913 Southern members of Congress tried several times to pass a law which would officially name the war as the War between the States, but all these efforts failed. Time passes and distinctions become blurred: The name “War Between the States” is inscribed on the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, and in 1994, the U.S. Postal Service issued commemorative stamps entitled “The Civil War / The War between the States.”

Now, as we have water-related tensions growing between three former states of the Confederacy, we may as well call these tensions Water War Between the States (as we reported, a month ago British intelligence, in its annual report to the prime minister, warned of the coming of “water wars” between countries left drought-ridden by climate change) In evidence: A federal proposal that would let Georgia keep more water during droughts instead of letting it eventually flow into Apalachicola Bay means that Florida would be “bearing the brunt” of problems, said Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida. AP reports that Florida officials had offered no reaction since the Army Corps of Engineers announced a proposal on Tuesday that would allow greater storage in upstream lakes and lower river flows into Florida. But in a statement, Mr. Crist said, “We will continue to pursue all opportunities to ensure protection for Florida’s environment, economy and quality of life.” Florida, Alabama and Georgia have fought for nearly two decades over water rights. Georgia wants to hold back more water in federal reservoirs to serve its growing population. Florida and Alabama argue that Georgia has not adequately planned for growth. The new proposal comes after negotiations among the governors of the three states broke down in February, prompting Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to say the federal government would impose its own solution.