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A judge has ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not have to revise plans for dam operations along the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, a contentious win for Georgia in a series of ongoing battles over water between it and neighboring states. The decision comes after environmental groups, and the state of Alabama sued the Corps, claiming that the agency’s plan reserved too much water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin, potentially harming the health of wildlife and hydropower production along the rivers.
Why This Matters: As drought becomes a permanent fixture across the nation, environmental advocates are fighting to preserve the health of freshwater systems. Dams, outdated infrastructure, and manufactured reservoirs have often stood in the way of free-flowing rivers, bringing many ecosystems to the brink of collapse.
Several dams on the California-Oregon border are slated for demolition after the lack of free-flowing water, and shallow conditions led to a parasite pandemic among native salmon populations.
Still, many states, like Georgia, rely on dams and reservoirs to provide drinking water to residents, which is becoming more difficult as drought sets in and demand rises. Water battles between states will become more common as global temperatures continue to increase. Finding a balance between providing water to the people and protecting freshwater ecosystems must be a vital component of climate adaptation.
But Georgia Ackerman, the executive director of Apalachicola Riverkeeper, says that the current plan to secure that drinking water will “starve the Apalachicola ecosystem of vital freshwater flows, especially during the critical breeding, spawning and flowering seasons for many species.” Ecosystems in Apalachicola Bay have already faced destruction due to the lack of free-flowing water, especially during times of drought, including the complete collapse of once-thriving oyster fisheries.
Despite the win for Georgia, there is no end to the 30-year battle in sight. Alabama has also sued the Corps for how it divided the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basin, whose headwaters begin in Georgia.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer For decades, uranium mining has contaminated the Navajo Nation, causing higher cancer rates and water pollution. Even though the health risks and environmental harms of uranium mining are well-established, new operations continue to move forward. One local group, the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) hasn’t found a […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would extend the drought emergency statewide and issued an executive order to have residents conserve water. As part of this effort, eight new counties were added to the state of emergency, and authorized the State Water Resources Control Board was authorized to […]
By Elizabeth Love, ODP Contributing Writer Authorities in the Canadian Arctic territory Nunavut, announced a state of emergency this week due to a possible contamination event affecting the City of Iqaluit’s water supply. Tests were performed after residents reported the smell of gasoline coming from their tap water, but they came back clean. However, […]
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