Alabama Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks recently held a press conference on the Florida-Alabama waterways management. 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 allow the State of Florida to control Alabama’s water resources into extreme north Alabama.

Commissioner Sparks announced his objections to this proposal because it would have an effect on Alabama’s water, agricultural and economic development. Sparks was joined by Senator Jimmy Holley, Representative Terry Spicer, Representative Alan Boothe, and Barbara Gibson, executive director of the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority.

"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," said Sparks. "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 and the legislators then gave several examples of how this could affect Alabama agriculture and industry.

"For example, 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."

Sparks has been in contact with all interested agencies since learning of Florida’s request. "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."