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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Water crisis threatens Apalachicola oysters

Posted on Dec. 17, 2007
The 18-year water war involving Florida, Alabama and Georgia is also 'Atlanta vs. the world' as the metropolitan area demands more water, which could threaten the ecology and economy downstream along the Apalachicola River.

The 107-mile river, its healthy waters and the shallow and protected bay into which it spills fuel the rapid growth of smooth-tasting oysters, the product of sunlight, river- and ocean-made flesh in the place locals call ''the Last Great Bay.'' About 10 percent of the oysters consumed in the nation and 90 percent of those eaten in Florida come from these waters.

The oyster's filter feeds and thrives with the tide and flow of both salt- and freshwater. The saltwater helps kill freshwater parasites and the freshwater blocks saltwater predators, like oyster drill snails, and parasites. If the water is the life's blood of the critters and economy, its flow is the pulse.

Florida sued, saying the minimum flow threshold of 5,000 cubic feet a second -- 2.24 million gallons a minute -- was too low. That's less than half the historic flow for this time of year, the dry season.

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