Ga. water dispute negotiator’s firm tied to pumping project | The Augusta Chronicle

21
May

Ga. water dispute negotiator’s firm tied to pumping project | The Augusta Chronicle

One of Georgia’s negotiators in a tri-state water dispute also is president of a lobbying firm that has sought to commercially develop a technology billed as a partial solution to that feud, a situation a top state official and others say could look like a conflict even though it is legal.

Allen Barnes once led Georgia’s Environ­men­tal Protection Divi­sion. Now he is president and CEO of Joe Tanner and Asso­­ciates, the lobbying firm paid $5,000 a month for Barnes’ work as a negotiator in a long-running water conflict with Alabama and Florida.

Until last week, Barnes’ lobbying firm was going to be hired in a government-backed project testing whether underground water can be pumped into depleted rivers and streams, which supporters say would get more water to Alabama and Florida and possibly ease their conflicts with Georgia. The regional agency sponsoring the project pulled out of the deal last week, meaning it no longer needs services from Barnes’ firm. Barnes said his lobbying firm has no immediate plans to work with another applicant, though he remains interested in the technology.

The governor’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, said the test project was in the best interests of the state and called Barnes “one of the most ethical men” he knows. But when asked, Riley said there could be a perceived clash between Barnes’ public duties and his business interests.

via Ga. water dispute negotiator’s firm tied to pumping project | The Augusta Chronicle.

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