Florida congressman continues push for better deal in ACF River Basin dispute

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Lawmakers in Washington are once again sparring over the ACF River Basin. This time, Florida lawmakers claim they’re on the losing end of new water guidelines. Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL) says his state needs better treatment from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL) says the new water guidelines will hurt Florida's economy.

Dunn is on a mission to stop new guidelines dictating water flow for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. Dunn says Florida is getting a raw deal under the Army Corps of Engineers revised "Master Water Control Manual,” so he's introducing new legislation to stop its implementation.

“That puts a hard force on them to come back and look at their water manual and the rules for running the river basin,” said Dunn.

He says the rules reward Georgia, despite what he calls that state's lack of water conservation. He says it also reduces water flow to Florida, which hurts the environment and Florida oyster companies.

“It’s a very, very important nursery for many, many species,” said Dunn. “And it is also of huge economic importance to the Franklin Gulf County area. This is how a great number of our people make a living.”

Some Georgia lawmakers say Dunn’s crusade is interrupting what they thought was an amicable agreement in the latest water manual. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) says he hopes the fight is put to rest in the Supreme Court, where the states have been battling for years.

“Of course we want to be good neighbors but at the same time, Georgia wants to utilize its rights to have adequate water for its residents,” said Bishop.

Bishop says the decades long dispute needs to come to an end with a very simple principle in mind: everyone needs to share. Bishop says lawmakers on Capitol Hill have not come together on the topic in years.

“(Florida’s) industry down there wants to make sure it’s protected,” said Bishop. “You can’t blame them for that. But at the same time we have people and industries that have people who need to drink water upstream.”

Dunn hopes Congress passes his resolution soon. Bishop says the Georgia delegation will make efforts to block it. The Army Corps of Engineers was not immediately available for comment.