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Supreme Court Considers Water Rights Dispute Between Virginia and MarylandAired May 29, 2000 - 2:40 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The Supreme Court is expected to announce tomorrow whether it will decide a water rights dispute between Virginia and Maryland. The Potomac River is at the center of this dispute. It is one of many U.S. rivers now being fought over.
As CNN's senior Washington correspondent Charles Bierbauer reports, below the surface of many of these fights, are differing philosophies of development.
CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Potomac at Great Falls is powerful and seemingly abundant. Quiet water up stream masks a turbulent inter-state quarrel over quantity and quality.
STUART RAPHAEL, FAIRFAX COUNTY ATTORNEY: The water on the shore of the river, and this is true on both the Maryland and the Virginia shore, tends to much higher in sediment concentration than than the water off-shore.
BIERBAUER: Virginia's Fairfax County wants to extend its in-take 700 feet off-shore, away from the sediment and grasses that clog the on-shore in-take. But the Potomac, dating to a 1632 land grant from King Charles I belongs to Maryland shoreline to shoreline, and Maryland does not think Virginia needs a mid-river intake.
J.L. HEARN, MARYLAND ENVIRONMENT DEPT.: The treatment process that Fairfax now operates has not now, and to my knowledge, has never had a violation of federal drinking water standards.
BIERBAUER: Maryland suggests the dispute is rooted in differing philosophies about development.
CHRISTOPHER VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND STATE SENATOR: There has been a lot of churning up of the land to make room for lots of new development, and roads and highways.
BIERBAUER: Virginia asked the Supreme Court to rule no longer needs Maryland's permission to draw water.
RAPHAEL: That is not a good thing for Virginia because it puts another state in control of its destiny. BIERBAUER (on camera): The Potomac is only one of the boundary rivers in the U.S. where states are quarreling over water rights. The Supreme Court may be called on in several cases to resolve the dispute.
(voice-over): Kansas accuses Nebraska of diverting the Republican River's flow to thousands of wells in a case the court will referee. Arizona and California returned to the court with a nearly 50-year-old dispute ever the Lower Colorado, which also involves the water rights of five Indian tribes. Georgia, Alabama and Florida could go to court if they can't agree on the Apalachicola- Chatahoochee-Flint basin. Can it water the development of the region from Atlanta to the oyster beds of Florida.
When states, themselves, cannot solve these problems, only the Supreme Court has constitutional authority to navigate interstate disputes.
Charles Bierbauer, CNN, on the Potomac.
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