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Georgia asks judge to compel US Army Corps of Engineers to address water supply requests

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ATLANTA — The state of Georgia on Friday in a lawsuit asked a federal judge to force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the state's requests for additional water supply storage at Lake Allatoona.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Atlanta seeks to compel the Corps to update its water control plans and manuals for the lake and other reservoirs in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basin. Georgia's lawyers claim the state has been trying to get "rational, reasonable plans and manuals" from the Corps for more than three decades.

"The Corps' refusal to properly address current and future water supply needs hampers the State of Georgia's ability to properly manage its valuable water resources and potentially puts the health, safety and welfare of Georgia's citizens at risk," the lawsuit says.

Corps spokeswoman Lisa Parker said in an email that the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

The Corps has made public and private statements in recent years that indicate that it doesn't plan to develop new plans and manuals to address the current and future water supply needs in the basin because of political pressure by Alabama, the lawsuit says. In a final environmental impact statement for Lake Allatoona and the basin issued Friday, the Corps confirmed that it has no plans to address the water supply needs, the lawsuit says.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's office did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

If Lake Allatoona can't meet Georgia's current and future water supply needs, the state would need to develop new reservoirs and other water supply infrastructure, which would require planning 15 to 25 years in advance, the lawsuit says.

"It is regrettable but necessary that we must now ask the court to require the Corps to do its job and make a decision," Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said in a news release. "We need to know how Allatoona Lake will be operated for water supply so we can plan for the future. That's all we're asking the Corps to do — put politics aside, make a decision, and let the chips fall where they may."

The attorney general's office said The Atlanta Regional Commission and the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority also filed lawsuits against the Corps.

In a separate but parallel dispute, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear Florida's lawsuit seeking to limit the amount of water Georgia can take from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin.

Alabama, Georgia and Florida have for decades been involved in multiple lawsuits over regional water use, with Alabama and Florida both claiming that Georgia uses more than its fair share of water to quench the thirst of the growing Atlanta metro area.


Associated Press writer Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, contributed to this report.

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