Letter to the Editor –
By Margo Rebar –
Chair, Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club
The people of Alabama need to know what the recommendations are for securing our water resources from the threats of outside neighboring states and inside competing uses. But it seems water in Alabama is something of a political football.
When it comes to how much water Alabama should get from its neighbors, the courts turned the ball back over to the federal Army of Corps of Engineers, and then Florida took the ball and threw it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the state of Alabama sits on the sidelines with no real play to make, even with two-thirds of our state’s valuable water resources at stake, from the Georgia line to Mobile Bay.
It has been more than a month since the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group submitted their much anticipated report to Governor Bentley. The group of agencies was charged by the Governor in 2012 with recommending “a statewide water management action plan and timeline that takes into account and equitably manages the various demands on the State’s water.” The letter also asked the agencies to include “any proposed legislation necessary to implement such a plan.”
The Alabama Sierra Club, Alabama Rivers Alliance, and countless other citizens, business people, university professors, and government officials invested large amounts of time over the past year and a half to ensure that the governor’s request for stakeholder input was honored and that any recommendations for a state water plan were well informed by the people of Alabama. More than 400 Alabama citizens participated in all-day meetings held in six different cities throughout the year to engage and inform people about Alabama’s water management plan. The citizens deserve the courtesy of receiving a copy of the report submitted to the Governor on December 1st, 2013.
The Alabama Legislature is now in the 2014 session, yet there is no indication of whether the legislature has been shown a copy of the report either. The governor stated in his address to the Alabama Water Resources Conference in September 2013 that if given “actionable items,” he would put them into action. The legislative members of the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Water Policy and Action should be working now with the people of Alabama and the Governor on any possible actionable items from the report.
It is time for the state to put drinking water and water for farming, energy supplies, manufacturing, recreation, and fisheries at the forefront of our priorities. Citizens and legislators alike should be urging the governor to release this report and tell the people of Alabama what the recommendations are for securing our water resources from the threats of outside neighboring states and inside competing uses.
© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.