The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments by Florida and Georgia in a lawsuit concerning the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint (ACF) River Basin, a system that supplies water for a variety of uses in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Perhaps it’s time to try a new approach, one that is based on regional cooperation and collaboration rather than expensive litigation.
Since 2009, the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Stakeholders (ACFS), a grassroots organization representing the full spectrum of water interests throughout the ACF River Basin, has been working toward solutions based on sound science and transparent, consensus decision-making.
In 2015, we released our Sustainable Water Management Plan, a framework to equitably manage the waters in the ACF. Backed by more than 60 donors who contributed more than $1.7 million, we developed a package of recommendations that when implemented together provided a starting point to improve the way water is stored, shared and used across the watershed.
Our plan also proposed developing a trans-boundary water management institution that would include the states, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal agencies and stakeholders for solving, and hopefully preventing, future water-related conflicts.
The suite of recommendations in the plan was approved by a consensus of the ACFS governing board with the intention that they be taken together to ensure that the diverse water interests from Florida, Georgia and Alabama would all benefit from implementation.
The stakeholders demonstrated that agreement can be achieved and that it is entirely possible to manage and share the water in this river basin, but we all need to work together in good faith.
Chair, ACF Stakeholders Inc.