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February 22, 2007   Email to Friend 

Christy Rhodes
(334) 240-7103
February 22, 2007

From left: Rep. Alan Boothe, Commissioner Sparks, Rep. Terry Spicer, and Sen. Jimmy Holley
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Ron Sparks, commissioner of Alabama's Department of Agriculture & Industries, today criticized a Florida proposal that he says will allow the state to control Alabama's water resources into extreme northern Alabama.

"If implemented, this request would allow the State of Florida to control Alabama's water and agricultural and economic development up to 50 miles north of the Florida-Alabama state line," Sparks said at a press conference from his office Thursday. "And, should Florida have issues with any water-related problems inside the 50-mile zone, it would allow the state to review any location in a specific watershed up to the actual headwaters, which could be all the way up to north Alabama."

Sparks said that Florida's Coastal Management Program has proposed what it calls "a routine request" to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that, if granted, would harm Alabama's water, agricultural and economic development.

Sparks' objections were echoed by Sen. Jimmy Holley, Reps. Terry Spicer and Alan Boothe and Barbara Gibson, executive director of the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority. "If Florida dictates what Alabama is allowed to do on its waterfront, they could decide we are not allowed to put in more power plants along the rivers," said Boothe.

"This review policy Florida has proposed would be effective for any entity that receives federal funding assistance," added Gibson. "You can clearly see how this would affect many aspects of industry and agriculture in our state." Since learning of Florida's request, Sparks said he has been in contact with all interested agencies. "I now understand that a working group of various state agencies has been formed and we expect to be invited to participate in the discussions," said Sparks. "This attempt to encroach on Alabama's rights cannot be allowed to stand."

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