Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flint River Needs Your Help

The Fight to Protect the Flint River at the State Capitol Continues in the House of Representatives

Please contact your State Representative in the House TODAY and ask for them to REMOVE THE "AUGMENTATION" LANGUAGE FROM SB 213 OR VOTE NO. 
Go here to find your Representative and contact information:http://openstates.org
PLEASE make contact with your Representative by
10am Tuesday, March 24th
SB 213 revises the Flint River Drought Protection Act of 2000, but contains a poison pill that threatens rivers, property rights, and taxpayers that must be amended out of the bill.
The bill passed out of the House Agriculture Committee on Friday and now goes to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee could amend the bill and they will decide when to send it to the full House for a vote.
Background: SB 213 contains a provision that authorizes so-called "stream flow augmentation" projects -- including dangerous Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) projects -- and also prohibits downstream users from reasonable use of any water added by these projects. The provision threatens longstanding Georgia waters rights law, private property rights, and clean water.
The augmentation language will allow a hugely expensive, tax-payer funded, multi-million dollar Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)  flow augmentation project to continue to be funded in the lower Flint. The water added by this project will flow to Florida while Georgia farmers and other property owners are denied reasonable use of it. The project is supposedly designed to add to Metro Atlanta's water supply but at an extremely high cost that is projected to fall on Metro Atlanta utility ratepayers, who already pay the highest water bills in the state.
The augmentation provisions also allow the EPD director to deny water users that are downstream of an undefined "augmentation" project the use of any of the "augmented" water flowing past their property, without prior opportunity to be heard. This provision allows the State to control (or allow a private party to control) a portion of stream flow and prohibit the reasonable use of it, which is akin to prior appropriation of water -- a short step from western-type water regulation. State ownership of water is different from thestate's current regulation by permit.
Property owners in Georgia have a "bundle" of rights that make up their property rights. An essential property right in that bundle is the right to reasonable use of water on or under your property. Allowing the appropriation and state control of water, and not allowing downstream property owners the right to reasonable use of it, radically diminishes that property right.
We will continue to update you on the bill's status and ask YOU to take action for the benefit of the Flint River watershed.

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