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Drought, Oysters, and Rickey Banks

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Drought, Oysters, and Rickey Banks

Postby Srbenda » December 3rd, 2019, 2:14 pm

From the WSJ, I'll link the article, and quote a few excerpts.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-water- ... ge=1&pos=2

CAMILLA, Ga.—Water stress, a hallmark of the American West, is spreading east.

The shift is evident on Casey Cox’s family farm in Georgia’s agricultural heartland, where she turned on five giant rotating sprinklers to see her sweet corn through weeks of hot, dry weather last spring.

“If we hadn’t had irrigation, our crop would have burned up completely,” said Ms. Cox, who with her father also produces soybeans, peanuts and timber on 2,400 acres.

More water to save Ms. Cox’s crops, though, often means less for neighbors to the south such as Rickey Banks. He gave up his life as a Florida oysterman when his fishery, which depends on water from the same river basin as Ms. Cox’s farm, collapsed during a drought.


One striking marker of expanding stress is the 100th meridian, a divide between water-rich and water-poor areas drawn nearly a century and a half ago by geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell. According to a team of scientists including those at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the boundary—severing states from North Dakota to Texas—has shifted about 140 miles eastward since 1979 because of warmer temperatures or reduced rainfall. The scientists predict the West’s drier climate will continue to push eastward and pressure water supplies for farms and cities alike.


Florida blames Georgia farmers such as the Coxes, along with metropolitan Atlanta’s thirst, for the loss of such livelihoods. It says the explosion of irrigated agriculture in southern Georgia and Atlanta’s dramatic growth have drained too much water from the states’ shared river system, shrinking flows to Florida’s Apalachicola Bay.

The reduction, Florida argues, caused salinity to surge in the bay, fueling an invasion of oyster-eating predators such as conchs and sponges. Only a handful of oystermen ply the bay’s waters today, down from hundreds a decade ago. Local restaurants that once boasted their “seafood slept in the bay last night” now import oysters from Texas or Louisiana.

Mr. Banks left Florida in search of carpentry work, eventually returning to launch a charter service that takes guests fishing and hunting for wild boars and alligators.

“Oystering was a heritage, not only a job,” said Mr. Banks, 49, who began working on his father’s oyster boat at the age of five.


Irrigation’s eastern push lies at the heart of Florida v. Georgia, one of three interstate water disputes pending before the Supreme Court. Western states have sent such disputes to the high court for more than a century. Now eastern states are the combatants in two of the three water cases before the court.

Florida seeks to limit Georgia’s water use. In 2015, Florida’s attorneys subpoenaed the Cox farm, arriving during the fall harvest to collect a decade’s worth of irrigation records and more. The two states have submitted more than seven million pages of documents, said a person familiar with the case.
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Re: Drought, Oysters, and Rickey Banks

Postby DixieReb » December 3rd, 2019, 6:26 pm

Interesting read. It's sad that things have gotten the way they are now with the reduced rainfall and all. If we can become better stewards of the water use, maybe the oysters will come back.
Yours in the South
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Re: Drought, Oysters, and Rickey Banks

Postby doomtrpr_z71 » December 4th, 2019, 1:22 pm

While not a horribly written article, the master in the case is indeed correct that the oyster issues are self inflicted, and probably going to get worse due to the FWC meddling in Tates Hell. Why the state of Florida spent all of the money for Warnell to evaluate the Apalachicola Bay and then ignore the recommendations is mind boggling. River flows wont fix the issues.
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