For evidence that Alabama is serious about pursuing a comprehensive water plan, one need look no further than the state legislature’s recent action to fund a study of the state’s water resources.

In times of tight budgets, it’s a good indication that a statewide water policy is closer to becoming a reality, and the impact on agriculture could be significant.

News of the funding came during the recent Alabama Water Policy Symposium held on the campus of Auburn University.

The symposium was organized by a task force charged by Gov. Robert Bentley to come up with options for a comprehensive water management plan for Alabama. The plan would be the state’s first for managing water resources.

The task force, known as the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group (AWAWG), consists of representatives from five key agencies in Alabama that deal with the management of water and water resources, including: the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs-Office of Water Resources; the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; the Alabama Department of Environmental Management; and the Geological Survey of Alabama.

The group will present policy and legislative options to the governor by Dec. 1 of this year.

 The theme of the symposium was “Science-based Water Planning and Policy — What We Know, What We Need to Know, and How We Get There.” It is one of several forums held throughout the state for gathering stakeholder input into the development of the water plan.

Sam Fowler, director of the Auburn University Water Resources Center and a collaborator with the Alabama Universities Irrigation Initiative (AUII), told stakeholders at the symposium that irrigation in the state is increasing and will continue to increase.