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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Marshall rebuff of Blount not enough to guard water

Marshall County Commission Chairman Billy Cannon's bluster about keeping Tennessee River water in the Valley might not be enough to stop an eventual raid.

Blount County continues to pursue how its water authority can tap into the river and withdraw up to a 150 million gallons a day.

Chairman Cannon said he told his counterpart in Oneonta that "there was no prospect of us allowing another county to pull water out of our lake."

Guntersville Lake, however, belongs to the Tennessee Valley Authority, according to a spokesperson. Blount officials have had preliminary talks with TVA about the controversial issue, the spokesperson said, and TVA has taken no position on allowing such a move.

Marshall's strong reaction against the request follows earlier unsuccessful attempts to legislative access to the river.

TVA controls water through 26A intake permits, which the Blount County Water Authority needs for access. TVA also considers all the water between dams as lake water and subject to the same permitting.

The Tennessee River is the focus of a Blount County study of long-range water needs and the environmental impact of transporting water outside its watershed.

The near-$1 million study is a good first step, but one that needs more players. All the counties in the Tennessee Valley should be involved in this study or an independent one now instead of later.

Certain areas of North Alabama need more water, including Birmingham. The Tennessee Valley should not take the attitude that it's our water and we will not share even if there is sufficient volume to feed Birmingham via a Blount pipeline.

Our elected officials would be wise to have more information than the Blount County study on which to form opinions. The river is our lifeline and we should be prepared to protect the watershed from harm.

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