U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) last week urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to postpone issuing a final Environmental Impact Statement or Water Control Manual for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system until ongoing litigation between Florida and Georgia has ended.
In a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, who oversees civil works, Nelson, Rubio and Rep. Gwen Graham pushed the agency to refrain from making a final decision until the Supreme Court has ruled on Florida’s lawsuit claiming that Georgia’s increased storage and consumption of water from the ACF basin has caused less freshwater to flow into Apalachicola Bay and hurt the local economy.
In 2014, the court appointed Ralph Lancaster, a special master, to review the suit and recommend a ruling. Final testimony in that case wrapped up this week and the lawmakers are now urging the Corps to wait until a final decision is rendered before issuing their report.
“Specifically, we are concerned that your agency has not consulted with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has expertise in hydrology and drought, before finalizing any ACF water management decisions,” wrote the legislators. “Since the release of the draft EIS, NOAA has developed and released new scientific tools that can provide a better understanding of total water prediction.
“These tools hold promise for improved management of the ACF basin in a way that supports healthy fish and wildlife populations, including endangered species,” read the letter.