If you go to your favorite seafood restaurant and eat an oyster, it's likely to have come from Florida's Apalachicola Bay. A decade long 'water war' with Atlanta has already caused half of the Florida delicacy to die off.
"Current water policies are not working and certainly not working for Florida," said Sen. Bill Nelson.
US Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio held a hearing in the small North Florida town of about 2,500 to talk about the disastrous impact the lack of fresh water flowing from Georgia is having on the bay.
“This is not just about oysters, it's about people," said Sen. Marco Rubio.
Monday afternoon The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the west coast of Florida a fishery disaster. It sites three factors: an ongoing drought reduced downstream river flow and increased salt in the water. That recipe creates a perfect storm for catastrophe.
Senator Nelson says if fresh water isn't restored to Apalachicola bay it could cost the area hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
The Senators say the bull’s eye is on Lake Lanier outside of Atlanta. The reservoir holds about 60% of the water that ends up in Florida. More water has been tapped for Georgia causing the lack of water here.
"Lowest water levels since data has been kept in 1923,” said James Cooper.
Lawmakers and fishers in the area are calling on the US Army Corps of Engineers and neighboring states to conserve more, so more h2o makes it to Apalachicola Bay.
“If no fresh water we can’t make a living.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott toured the area with the Senators later Tuesday afternoon. He says Florida will sue Georgia over water rights, if nothing is done to allow freshwater to flow to Apalachicola Bay.