Frank and candid discussion, that's how Governor Bob Riley described Friday's conversation with two top federal government officials about the water wars.
President bush sent the two officials to Georgia and Alabama in preparation for a big meeting next week in Washington between the Georgia, Alabama, and Florida's governors.
All three states are fighting over water and things have gotten even more intense due to the current drought.
So far, so good. Governors Bob Riley of Alabama, Sonny Perdue of Georgia and Charlie Crist of Florida say their states are ready to put 20-years of bickering behind them and reach a water-sharing agreement.
"I think we had a candid discussion on all sides which was unusual," Governor Riley said.
Today, U.S. Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality spent the morning with Governor Perdue in Georgia and then with Governor Riley in Montgomery. The team now says it has a better idea of what the water war is all about. Now comes the hard part; reaching an agreement next week.
The drought pushed the water war to a new level when Governor Perdue accused Alabama of using 'insane' environmental rules to dry up Georgia lakes. The governor wants to release less water into the Chattahoochee River from Lake Lanier in north Georgia, but the problem with that, according to Governor Riley, is what could happen downstream in Alabama; jobs could be impacted such as those at the Farley Nuclear Power Plant near Dothan.
"It is isn't a question if we'll reach an agreement. We have to," Governor Riley said.
The three governors meet next Thursday in Washington, D.C. Even if they reach an agreement in principle, officials say it'll take weeks to iron out the details.
Governor Riley was asked how much money Alabama has spent over the years in litigation in the water war, he chuckled and said 'I don't know.'