River advocacy groups are promoting passage of a bill that would provide clear standards in times of drought for the state to step in to allocate use of water for agriculture, recreation, drinking and other uses.
The bill, HB 476, also would set up a system of “conservation credits” for agricultural and other large water users who institute water-saving measures before periods of drought.
Under the bill, when water flow in a river or stream falls below predetermined, science-based levels, state agencies could more quickly impose limits on usage to protect the health of the waterway. That would impact the quality of water for drinking, recreation and aquatic life, advocates say.
Meanwhile, farmers are concerned that the bill could let the state cut back on their water use just when they need it most.
The bill is awaiting action in a committee. Read more.
A bill that would set rules for the state to step in and allocate use of water during droughts, HB 476, would divide the state’s counties into surface water regions for purposes of determining water availability and needs. Read more.
Memories of Alabama’s devastating 2016 drought must be short.
A reminder: The Cahaba and other rivers stopped flowing in places, and water utilities were slow to place restrictions on their customers when reservoirs ran almost dry. The worst of the eight-month drought didn’t end until spring 2017.
Now, as Alabama’s climatologist predicts dryer months ahead, Gov. Kay Ivey has disbanded a broad panel charged with developing a comprehensive water use plan for the state.
Environmental groups are voicing surprise and dismay. The leader of one says disruption in the planning process delays a plan that is needed quickly.
The action puts future water plan efforts in the hands of an appointed commission that has no public members and has not produced an actionable water management plan in its 27 years of existence. Read more.