Alabama State Climatologist John Christy says that when he was growing up in Fresno County, Calif., it was a crime to let a drop of water flow to the sea.

“But there are consequences for that,” said Christy at the recent Alabama Water Policy Symposium held at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). The symposium was one of a series being held statewide to gather stakeholder input into the ongoing efforts to develop a comprehensive water management plan for the state.

“We don’t want to see that type of situation develop here in Alabama with regards to irrigation. When I arrived here and saw the Tennessee River, all I saw were bales of $100 bills flowing down the river,” says Christy. “But there are consequences, as they’ve discovered in California, for when you don’t think about the environmental sustainability of what you’re doing. You might not have the economic sustainability going forward. So in Alabama, we want to look at how we can develop both an economically and environmentally sustainable water plan for food and fiber production.”