State’s water supply sparks concern

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Staff Writer

April 11, 2000 11 PM

Alabama’s waterways are in trouble and Joe Turnham is trying to do something about it.

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Turnham, founder of the Alabama League of Environmental Action Voters, spoke to the Troy Rotary Club on Tuesday regarding the "Water Wars."

The so-called "Water Wars" are conflicts between Alabama, Florida and Georgia that have risen because of shared waterways.

"We’re in real big trouble," Turnham said, adding water is the one resource issue that affects so many other things.

"The only real thing governing water is federal laws," Turnham said referring to the Clean Water Act passed by Congress.

But, that is not of help when it comes to one state trying to control water in another state.

For the past three years, the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa water system has been one of the most threatened in the nation. And, with 70 percent of that water basin being in this state, there is apt to be trouble, Turnham said.

"Alabama is the Saudi Arabia of water," Turnham said comparing the state to the foreign country which has the oil market under its thumb.

He said Alabama has one-twelfth of the water in the southeastern United States.

The problem is, Turnham said, there are not "sufficient standards" to care for it, making Alabama "vulnerable to other states."

In order to stop the "Water Wars," agreements or extensions on current agreements are going to have to be made.

"Georgia has been very inflexible," Turnham said. "We’re very concerned."

Turnham pointed out that water supply affects economics, such as property values near water, recreational activities and industry considering a particular area. If there’s a chance water won’t be in supply, the economy will feel the waves, he said.

"The economic implications could be tremendous," Turnham said.

The Alabama League of Environmental Action Voters is a nonpartisan, political advocacy group involved in protecting and enhancing Alabama’s environment.

ALA-LEAV’s goal is to reach across political and other barriers to provide information, resources and legislative and policy input into laws and policies governing the use of Alabama’s resources and general environmental protection.

The group has brought together120 grass roots environmental groups to form ALA-LEAV.