ATLANTA - A day after a the U.S. House passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal hailed the move as a "breakthrough moment" in the effort to deepen the Savannah Harbor.
"Even though the Water Resources Reform and Development Act still has to go to a conference committee, today's action by the House is another step toward getting the federal portion of the cost," Deal said in a statement released Thursday.
"In addition to authorizing the project, the bill could allow Georgia to begin using the money it has put aside for the deepening; that is a critical victory for Georgia as we race to get ready for the much larger ships that will soon sail through an enlarged Panama Canal. I am grateful to the members of the Georgia delegation in the House and Senate for their role in developing this landmark legislation and fostering Georgia's economic growth. Georgians have waited on this day for a long time. The hurdles ahead of us are much shorter than those that are now behind us."
The bill authorizes $662 million for the dredging project, which includes both the state and federal portions. To date, Georgia has put aside $231 million for the project.
On another topic, WRRDA asserts that governors, not Congress, should negotiate interstate water disputes.
"As governor of Georgia, which has negotiated in good faith on interstate water discussions, I strongly endorse the 'sense of Congress' on how to handle interstate water disputes. These decisions belong in state capitols, not in Washington and not in court."
Georgia, Florida and Alabama have been in a dispute for more than 20 years on how the water from Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River - as well as other waterways - has been divided.