U.S. Water News Online
ATLANTA — A Georgia lawmaker wants his state to tackle a long-running dispute over regional water rights by applying some football leverage.
State Sen. John Douglas, a Social Circle Republican, said the University of Georgia's annual grudge match against the University of Florida should be moved from Jacksonville, Fla., to Georgia every other year.
He said he offered the proposal in reaction to a federal judge's ruling against Georgia's right to withdraw water from Lake Lanier, metro Atlanta's main source of water. The lake is at the center of a decades-long dispute between Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
Douglas, a 25-year Georgia season ticket holder who chairs the Senate veterans committee, said the Peach State should use the annual game as a bargaining chip as part of any discussion with Florida over water rights.
“We need the tax revenue kept in Georgia that's generated from the game,” he said. “The state of Florida has shown clearly that they're not concerned with the well-being of Georgia and I don't think that those of us in government should encourage Georgians to spend their hard earned money in Florida.”
The football rivalry, which has been hosted in Jacksonville nearly every year since 1933, attracts more than 100,000 fans to the northeast Florida city and has an estimated economic impact of $25 million.
Often known by fans as the “World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” it has become an annual pilgrimage for followers of the two teams. But some Georgia fans have complained about the neutrality of the site — a short drive from Florida's campus — and there have been recent efforts to play the game in Atlanta every other year.
Representatives from the two schools did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment, nor did Jacksonville city officials.
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