Perdue seeks to jump-start Lanier talks

ATLANTA - Facing a deadline to broker a water deal with its neighbors, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue on Thursday invited the leaders of Alabama and Florida to a summit in Atlanta to talk about it.

Perdue sent a letter to Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist offering 40 possible dates between Aug. 12 and Nov. 5 for the three leaders to try to settle the regional tug-of-war over federal water rights.

It's the latest round in the gamesmanship among the governors after a federal judge's ruling earlier this month found Georgia had few rights to Lake Lanier, the massive federal reservoir that supplies most of metro Atlanta's water.

The judge set a three-year deadline for Congress to approve a settlement. If not, withdrawals from the north Georgia lake could be cut to the levels they were at in the 1970s when Atlanta was a fraction of its size.