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Theology Thursdays: Riley Asks For More Prayer To End Drought by Dana Beyerle

Gov. Bob Riley on Wednesday again asked Alabamians to pray for rain to ease the drought that has cut water supplies and caused political tension in three states.

In late June, Riley asked for prayers for rain. He said the prayers worked because it started raining almost immediately. His Wednesday morning call for prayer preceded rain in northeast Alabama by about three or four hours.

After a drought meeting two weeks ago with the governors of Georgia and Florida, Riley said again that prayer wouldn't hurt.

Just recently, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue asked residents to pray for rain to help his state.

"He's exactly right," said Riley, who is a Baptist. "A lot of things are out of our control, but nothing is out of God's control."

Most of Alabama and the Southeast is in a severe drought, reporting as much as 25 inches of rain below normal.

Riley isn't totally relying on divine intervention but is counting on secular officials to try to combat what is being called the worst drought in recorded history.

Riley's staff and members of the Corps of Engineers, who control water flow from north Georgia into Alabama's rivers, had a Wednesday conference call about drought conditions, according to Riley spokesman Todd Stacy.

"The Corps still had the same stance as (after the meeting) in Washington, D.C., and (reported) that (north Atlanta suburbs) were withdrawing 100 percent more (water) than legally allowed," Stacy said.

At the Washington meeting with Perdue and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, which had the blessing of President Bush, the Corps of Engineers gave the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority 10 days to explain why it's been drawing up to 100 percent more water than it's supposed to get from supply lakes such as Altoona Lake that feed the Coosa River near Gadsden.

Cobb County interim Director Glenn Page said the deadline to report is Monday, but he disputes the contention that his system has been drawing twice as much water as it's supposed to get. "We disagree with the preliminary analysis by the Corps," Page said.

Corps officials in Mobile could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Alabama is concerned about the flow of water in the Chattahoochee River system that forms part of the border between Georgia and Alabama and the separate Coosa-Tallapoosa-Alabama river system through central Alabama.

The Chattahoochee joins a smaller Flint River to become the Apalachicola River in Florida.

Florida dropped out of an interim water sharing agreement after it became concerned that a lower water flow from Georgia would hurt the delicate Apalachicola Bay at the end of the Chattahoochee system.

The governors plan to meet in December in Tallahassee.

This article first appeared at:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

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