Rep. Dunn tries legislative route in water wars dispute

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Congressman Neal Dunn unveiled legislation Tuesday designed to help defend the seafood industry in Franklin County.

The House bill was in response to last week's ruling by a special master appointed by the Supreme Court.

That ruling said Florida didn't prove imposing a cap on Georgia's water use would be beneficial to the Sunshine State, but Dunn says the special master found evidence that was presented in court that showed clearly that Florida has suffered harm from low water flows from up river and that the Army Corps of Engineers practices in the river basin are the cause of that harm.

Dunn says the legislation allows definitive action to be taken - and that's what he plans to do.

"I have introduced legislation to nullify the newest water control manual and send it back to the Corps for re-writing in a new way that recognizes the new findings of the special master," Rep. Dunn said.

The decade-old dispute is affecting seafood businesses all across Apalachicola, including 13 Mile Seafood, where they sell hundreds of pounds of seafood every single day.

Tommy Ward is an oyster dealer whose family has been in the seafood business since the 1950s. What he wants is a steady flow of water to keep the estuary productive.

"I planted a lot of shells and cultivated a lot of my leases and had a good crop of oysters coming and then they died off," Ward said.

He's hoping Rep. Dunn's resolution will change things.

"I think it's a good thing, maybe it can help get a little more water coming in this way," Ward said.