Powell Hosts S. Carolina Delegation in Atlanta

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

Georgia and South Carolina lawmakers take another step towards forging a working relationship on the issue of the Savannah River.

Members of a delegation from the South Carolina Savannah River Water Caucus were recently the guests of State Representative Alan Powell, who represents Franklin and Hart counties, in Atlanta.

It was House Day at the State Capitol and Powell said he introduced seven members of the South Carolina delegation .

They included Rep. Phillip Owens from Easley, SC;  Rep. Don Bowen from Anderson, SC; Rep. Todd Rutherford from Richmond County, SC;  Rep. Shannon Riley from Columbia, SC; Rep. Bill Hickson from North Augusta, SC; Rep. Ralph Kennedy, Leesville, SC; and Rep. Don Wells from Aiken, SC.

In February of 2013, Powell announced the formation of the Georgia Savannah River Caucus.  It is made up of state lawmakers with interests in the management of the Savannah River District and its reservoir lakes.

Shortly after that, Powell shared his idea with South Carolina State Representative Don Bowen of AndersonCounty, who then spearheaded a similar effort on the South   Carolina side.

Powell said since then, the two groups have been working together to address the issue of water management on the Savannah River.

“From this has sprung a lot of interesting events,” Powell told the House. “Quite frankly, reaching out the hands of cooperation across state lines has brought benefits and it will bring benefits. A little bit of cooperation can go a long way. Hopefully, by reaching out and creating bonds of working relationships should prevent some federal judge telling us what we’re going to have to do at some point.”

Powell was referring to the ongoing issue of water withdrawal from LakeLanier that has kept lawmakers from Georgia, Florida and Alabama tied up in the courts for years.

Meanwhile, Powell said the House has passed two bills he submitted regarding HartwellLake.

One is the boating violator compact between Georgia and South Carolina that would change how boating violators on both sides of the lake would be fined.

The other calls for a continued close relationship between the state and the Corps of Engineers on adaptive management of the water issues on the Savannah River.

There is no word on where those bills stand in the Senate.