'It's Central Florida's "Action News Update" for Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Here, with all the latest is Channel 3's award-winning Action News Team, Rob Eyeball and Darla Peach ..."
Rob: "Good evening, everybody. Another skirmish today at the site of the Jim Woodruff Dam, near the southern tip of Lake Seminole on the Florida/ Georgia border. The fighting marks the third time this month that violence has broken out between troops of the Florida National Guard and their counterparts to the north, in what has become ground zero in the escalating "water wars" of the Southeast. No deaths have been attributed to this latest outbreak, though "Action News" has received several reports of serious injuries on both sides.
"At issue is the long-fought contest over Georgia's Chattahoochee River, which, along with the Flint River, flows into Florida's Apalachicola River at the state line. Georgia says it desperately needs to limit the amount of water emptying into Lake Seminole from the Chattahoo-chee, so that it can continue to provide at least 70 percent of the drinking water for Atlanta's 6.2 million thirsty residents. Florida maintains that Georgia's diversion of water from the Chattahoochee will devastate sensitive ecosystems along the Apalachicola and cause saltwater to back up from the Gulf of Mexico, 109 miles to the south."
Darla: "Tensions over how to divide the rights to the waters of the Apalachicola-Chatahoochee-Flint basin go back 10 years to 2002, when the governors of Georgia, Florida and Alabama failed to reach an amicable accord, as instructed by the U.S. Congress four years earlier. Talks broke down over Florida's insistence on measures designed to guarantee sufficient year-round flow into the oyster- and shrimp-rich Apalachicola, vs. Georgia's strong opposition to any regulation of water it has always regarded as its own.
"The President has dispatched the secretary of defense to the tiny town of Recovery, Ga., on the shores of Lake Seminole. There, representatives from both state capitals will meet in talks aimed at defusing the growing crisis."
Rob: "In a related story, a Zephyrhills delivery man was shot and killed today by several unknown assailants, who hijacked his truck while it was attempting to make an emergency water delivery to a local hospital. This was the fourth time in recent days that a vehicle carrying the precious cargo of clean water from the company's diminishing stockpiles has been taken by force. Authorities speculate that the stolen water will be sold on the black market, or perhaps held for ransom by the perpetrators."
Darla: "Water crimes have increased substantially since last year, when the EPA ruled definitively that Central Florida's water supply is unfit for human consumption. Government agents attribute the poisoning of the underground aquifer to long-term contamination from chemical plants and hazardous agricultural practices. So far, several hundred deaths and an untold number of illnesses are suspected to have been caused by the unlawful drinking of tap water in homes."
Rob: "And finally, in Sumter County, the last remaining residents of The Villages retirement community have been evacuated, as the former 90,000-person development shuts its gates for good. As you may remember, a decade ago residents of several communities near The Villages lost their legal battle with the project's developer, who won a permit from the water district to pull 4 million gallons of so-called "sweet water" a day from the ground in an area where lakes were already drying up and wells were pumping sand.
"Over the years, The Villages' inhabitants continued to see their water levels drop dangerously low, and last summer the community council voted to ration water to residences so that the golf courses could continue to be sprinkled daily. By this spring, however, the wells finally gave out and the entire back nine of the Villages' 'Seniors Only' course was swallowed by a huge sinkhole. Before the last houses were emptied, authorities discovered the remains of several infirm and elderly homeowners who appeared to have died from dehydration."
Darla: "Hmm. ... That's sad. Well, that's the "Action News Update" for today."
Rob: "Wednesday's "Action News" tip: Be sure to check your roof tanks for leaks, and don't forget: The Florida Department of Environmental Affairs has deemed water from your air-conditioning systems completely safe -- for washing only. See you tomorrow night. Have a good evening, and try not to spill anything ..."
Darla: (Smiling) "G'nite, everyone."