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Group studying rivers’ management

Steve Simpson, project manager at Black and Veatch, said Thursday that his company’s study is aimed at providing an “overwhelming collection of data” for the Army Corps of Engineers to convince them of the soundness of the ACF stakeholders’ plan for river management.

Steve Simpson, project manager at Black and Veatch, said Thursday that his company’s study is aimed at providing an “overwhelming collection of data” for the Army Corps of Engineers to convince them of the soundness of the ACF stakeholders’ plan for river management.

ALBANY, Ga. — The ACF Stakeholders group is continuing to work on a comprehensive study of the Appalachicola-Chattanooga-Flint River system that it plans to present to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Based on extensive data, the study will focus on ways to manage the river system that has been at the heart of water use disputes among Georgia, Alabama and Florida for more than two decades.

The ACF Stakeholders held its governing board meeting Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn to discuss its ongoing plans for management and conservation of one of Georgia’s largest river system. The ACF river basin is formed by three rivers: the Chattahoochee, forming in the mountains of north Georgia; the Flint, with its headwaters just south of Atlanta, and the Apalachicola, created as the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers merge about 60 miles northeast of Panama City, Fla.

ACF Stakeholders is an independent organization of local governments, power producers, farmers, manufacturers and conservationists, with interests in managing and preserving the rivers for future use.

“A part of the challenge to our ultimate objectives is that the interests of one stakeholder may not agree with that of another,” said Charles Stripling, a Camilla tree farmer and incoming president of ACFS.

Members now, however, are united in their mission to fund and complete a scientific study of the combined rivers system, which they will present to the Army Corp of Engineers as a comprehensive plan for management based on extensive data. At stake is a resolution of the 22-year Water Wars in which the three states have battled politically and in court over water rights and management of water within the basin.

According to Billy Turner, former director of the Columbus waterworks and a ACF Stakeholders member, the makeup of the ACF organization brings together “the most knowledgeable, group representing all water interests in the watershed.”

“We are entirely dedicated to finding a new way to ensure water in this region is managed in a fair and sustainable way for stakeholders,” Turner said.

Steve Simpson, senior project manager at Black and Veatch Corp., is engaged in the initial — or work plan — phase of the plan.

“The Army Corp of Engineers is where we’re aiming this thing,” Simpson said. “Right now, that’s who controls the water flow. When we have the work plan done and seven other steps, we can present the result. The idea is that our plan will be supported by so much scientific data the Corps won’t be able to ignore it.”