Roby Votes Against Water Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.) voted against a federal water policy bill this week, citing the removal of a provision from current law encouraging the states of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia to negotiate a water sharing agreement between them.
S. 612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, but not without significant opposition from members of the Alabama Congressional Delegation over eliminating an existing mandate from Congress for the states’ governors to settle their water sharing disputes. The bill currently awaits action by the Senate, where it is expected to see similar opposition from Alabama’s senators.
“The states need to be negotiating water agreements,” Roby said. “When that provision was removed, this bill lost my support.”
For decades, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida have fought the “water wars,” legal and political battles over the proper allocation of water resources along the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river systems. Both river systems originate in north Georgia, but significantly affect agriculture, industry, fisheries and community usage downstream. Alabama and Florida officials have long argued that the over consumption of water in the Atlanta metropolitan area threatens downstream interests, particularly in times of severe drought.
In its 2014 federal water policy authorization law, Congress directed the states’ governors to reinitiate negotiations for an equitable water sharing agreement, warning that Congress could intervene if governors failed to reach a compact on their own.
Roby’s district includes both river systems, bounded by the Chattahoochee River to the West and including major portions of the Alabama River. She said removing the negotiation provision from current law sends "exactly the wrong message” to state governors.
“Removing this provision sends exactly the wrong message to the states at a time when the governors say they are actually making progress.
“We will carefully monitor what happens in the Senate with this bill. No matter what, I believe this development has only strengthened the resolve of my Alabama and Florida colleagues moving forward to make sure Georgia cannot stand in the way of an equitable arrangement on behalf of our states.”