With Alabama ground zero for an historic months-long drought, U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, (R-Ala.) has thrown down the gauntlet with federal and upstream state officials in an effort to get more water for his parched state.
At issue is how much water is withheld from the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin in Georgia, where the Lake Allatoona and Carters Lake reservoirs are regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers. "Let me be clear," Bonner wrote in U.S. Fed News, "just because these reservoirs are located in Georgia does not mean they belong to the state of Georgia -- these reservoirs were constructed to benefit all those along the ACT River Basin."
Water fights like this are familiar to those living in Western states, where rivers like the Colorado have been diverted, dammed and channeled to feed or frustrate various constituencies -- from fishermen and ranchers to developers, residents and wildlife advocates. But the Southeast, unlike the Southwest, is not a desert, and it does not have the same reputation for water wars.
The drought, which has stolen the vitality of farm land, led to water restrictions and harmed air quality for months, has changed that. Whether or not the drought has anything to do with larger changes in the global climate, this fight is an important indicator:
If the climate changes, conditions on the ground change -- and quickly, as natural resources are limited, tempers flare. For an idea of just how bad the drought is, take a look at this map, released Thursday by the U.S. Drought monitor.
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