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The ancient Greek myth in which Sisyphus is condemned to perpetually roll a massive boulder up a hill only to have it fall back down now symbolizes repetitive, ultimately fruitless effort. The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) basin rapidly has become the emblem of Sisyphean water conflict in the eastern United States. It has the potential to rival some of the West's long-running water disputes, although it will never challenge the Colorado River in that regard.

At the outset, it is important to recognize that there are many parties with an interest in the ACF basin. The most prominent in recent years are the three basin states, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The party with the greatest physical control in the basin is the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Other parties include both the active and passive users of the water. Unless the three states and the other parties to the dispute embark on a markedly different approach, there is every reason to think that the ACF controversy has additional unfulfilling decades ahead of it. There also is some emerging room for optimism. Almost everyone dependent on the waters of the basin believes there is not enough water to support uses on a sustainable level without modification of both their own practices and those of others. That implies there is room for give on all sides in a solution that will require more give than take.