06.15.16

Senator David Perdue Sets Record Straight On Tri-State Water Rights Dispute

“Some in this body are short-circuiting litigation through the appropriations process.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) today spoke on the Senate floor to set the record straight on the continuing dispute over water rights between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

“Georgia has been a good steward of our water resources, and this has repeatedly been validated,” said Senator Perdue. “In fact, metro Atlanta water systems have gone above and beyond the necessary water management practices to ensure that they are conserving as much water as possible and efficiently using the water they do withdraw.”

Click here to view the speech or click on the image below. 

DPP

Transcript:

“I rise today to continue setting the record straight for the ongoing issue of water rights between Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

As I said yesterday, language from the committee report that accompanies this CJS – Commerce, Justice, and Science – bill has been inserted in an attempt to strong-arm the outcome of a matter that should clearly be left to the states.

This is an interstate dispute with negotiations and litigation still pending. And much like other parts of the country, the states have been in negotiations for many years.

Clearly, this is not a matter that Congress needs to insert itself into.

Furthermore, this is a debate we have already had. Last year, the leaders of both chambers determined that Congress has no business using the appropriations process to tip the scales one way or the other on this water rights issue.

So, why are we going through this again?

This is not the work our constituents had in mind for us when they sent us up here.

They expect us to deliver results, and they expect the national interest – and the Constitution – to come before the self-interest of a select few members of the Senate.

But yet again, the senior senator from Alabama is attempting to impose Washington as the solution for a matter that should be, and is being, handled by the states.

For over 20 years, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, have litigated and negotiated over water rights issues.

Despite decades of litigation, neither Alabama nor Florida has been able to prove any real or substantial harm resulting from the Army Corps of Engineers’ or Georgia’s water management practices.

As a matter of fact, they are under court direction today.

The numbers show this.

Since 1980, the population of the Metro Atlanta Water District has more than doubled, from just over 2 million to over 5 million, and that’s as a percentage of about 10 and a half million people in the state as a whole, and that’s in 2014.

Since 2000 alone, the population in the metro area has grown by over 1 million.

Since the formation of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District in 2001, water withdrawals in metro Atlanta have actually decreased dramatically, even as the population grew by more than 1 million.

As a matter of fact, the consumer per capita has gone down by more than one-third.

This is good management. Georgia has been a good steward of our water resources, and this has repeatedly been validated. In fact, metro Atlanta water systems have gone above and beyond the necessary water management practices to ensure that they are conserving as much water as possible and efficiently using the water they do withdraw properly.

There are 15 counties in the Metro District from 2000 to 2013, and as I said, water withdraws have declined by than more than one-third.

Both Alabama and Florida have consistently lost in court because their claims have been found to be baseless. Because they can’t win in court, now we see the senior senator from Alabama trying to win through the appropriations process in Congress.

There is a case on this issue currently being litigated between the states in the U.S. Supreme Court that is due to be heard by a court-appointed special master in November of this year. There is another case pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and yet another one pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. We need to allow the legal process to run its natural course on these cases.

But, again, some in this body are short-circuiting that litigation through the appropriations process. That’s just not appropriate.

This short-circuiting would have improper outcomes on these court cases. That speaks volumes.

We were not sent here to pick winners and losers among the states.

This is a matter for the states involved to litigate and negotiate, as are all interstate disputes. And, by the way, this could set a dangerous precedent not just for these three states, but for all states who have water rights issues.

This is a matter for the states involved to litigate and negotiate, as are all interstate disputes. This is not a matter to be dealt with through the appropriations process of the federal government.

Attempts at this kind of Washington meddling are exactly why many of our constituents have lost trust in this body. We must remove this language from the CJS bill, or we will set a dangerous precedent moving forward.”