WASHINGTON -- Georgia, Florida and Alabama don't agree on much when it comes to water. But the states' congressional delegations emerged from a meeting Wednesday united in a call for their feuding governors to get moving on water talks.
''They got to get to work,'' said Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla.
The lawmakers said they agreed unanimously to send a joint letter to the governors emphasizing the urgency of the talks. Some expressed frustration that the governors have yet to set an initial meeting three months after a federal court ruling that threatens to cut off Atlanta's access to its primary water source.
''The consensus of everyone in that room today was to get these governor's together,'' said Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Ala.
A federal judge ruled in July that the Atlanta region was illegally tapping Lake Lanier. He said Georgia would lose access to the federal reservoir in three years if it can't push a settlement through Congress authorizing the use.
The ruling gave Florida and Alabama the upper hand in the states' two-decade dispute over river basins in the region. But most acknowledge that a compromise should be reached to keep some water flowing to Atlanta, where more than 3 million residents depend on Lake Lanier for water.
While Congress would eventually have to authorize such a settlement, lawmakers in Washington agree that Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, Bob Riley of Alabama and Sonny Perdue of Georgia are best equipped to negotiate. But the governors -- all Republicans whose relations have been frayed by years of feuding -- haven't been able to even set up a meeting.
Perdue and Riley, particularly, appear barely able to communicate, while some lawmakers said Crist has not been engaged on the issue.
The governors all say they are eager to begin talks, blaming the others for a failure to proceed.
Reps. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., and John Lewis, D-Ga., who convened Wednesday's meeting on Capitol Hill, said they hoped pressure from all three delegations would get the governors' attention.