The proposed Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) compact would divert much of the Coosa River's water flow from Alabama and Northwest Georgia to metro Atlanta.
Members of the Coosa River Basin Initiative, an environmental group based in Rome, helped to organize the rally. "Save the Coosa River, Scrap the ACT Agreement," stated signs held by the protesters.
The governor was in town to tour five new classrooms at the high school during a statewide tour of schools eliminating portable classrooms.
My first act as governor was to sign an executive order directing the removal of substandard portable classrooms from our schools," stated Siegelman.
What CRBI and many citizens from Cherokee and Floyd counties would like to know is, will he sign the water compact?
After he addressed the classroom issue, the news media was allowed to question the governor. No one asked about the new building.
When asked how he felt about the current ACT proposal, Siegelman stated that he is not going to let the people in Atlanta drain the Chattahoochee or the Coosa to serve their growth needs.
"What we are demanding is our fair share, nothing more and absolutely nothing else. They're (Atlanta residents) entitled to a fair share of that water but not one drop more," he said. "We are working to ensure that the water that comes through Rome and into Alabama is better than what we've been getting, and I believe that we're going to get there.
"I've met with Gov. Barnes (Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes) personally on several occasions and have been part of the process that has moved this thing off the dime on a couple of different occasions. When the negotiators got stuck, Roy Barnes and I got together and kicked them in the seat of the pants and said 'Get busy again.'
"Under the proposal that I last saw, Alabama will be in a lot better shape than we were over the last two summers. I will look at it again in great detail, but where it was headed the last time Gov. Barnes and I talked, I felt comfortable with it."
When asked about specific water volume, figures are known by his legal advisers.
"The long and short of the agreement that we have been looking at puts Alabama in a lot better condition than we have been. It would give us a greater flow than we have had during the last two droughts," the governor said.
Some environmental experts fear the agreement will hurt fishing at Weiss Lake by lowering water flows in the lake.
The proposed agreement would set minimum flow guidelines between 1,200 and 1,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) for the Coosa River at the state line. The Coosa averages about 6,500 cfs.
According to CRBI and Alabama Rivers Alliance representatives, the compact will hurt Alabama and Northwest Georgia and it has got to be stopped.
Roy Wynn, sheriff of Cherokee County, stated that he sympathizes with the protesters because he loves Weiss Lake and doesn't want it to be harmed.
Students from Centre Elementary School are expected to show up on the steps of the state capitol in Mongtomery on April 12 to urge Siegelman to hold off signing the ACT agreement until it can be studied further