By Associated Press

ATLANTA  —   Alabama’s new governor says he’s ready to meet with Governor Nathan Deal to talk about water.

A spokesman for Deal says that Georgia shares Robert Bentley’s desire to reach an agreement on water. Robinson said Bentley’s statement that he is anxious to jump-start talks has been well received.

It’s been a two decade long legal battle between the two states—and Florida—over water sharing rights. And with a federal judge’s deadline of 2012 to get a deal done, all sides are feeling the heat.

While Alabama’s Bentley is ready to go with new talks, he’s suggested Deal’s reservoir plan would worsen conditions for downstream communities. And that could throw a wrench into soon to come discussions.

Deal has made reservoir development – whether new or expanding existing capacity – a key component in his water policy.

Governor Deal spokesman Brian Robinson says the reservoir issue will not hamper discussions.

“Those concerns from Governor Bentley, which are perfectly rational and understandable, will be met. Those will be taken care-of.”

And the chairman of the state’s Senate Natural Resources Committee feels the same, Perry Republican Ross Tolleson.

“I don’t look at the talk at the talk of reservoirs…that that would really be a negative”, says Tolleson. “There’s a lot of difference in say a reservoir on a major river vs. off-stream reservoirs. So there’s a lot of discussion that has to go on so everybody knows what they’re really talking about, and when you’re talking about a reservoir, where it’s actually going to be located.”

Tolleson says the fact that Deal and Bentley will soon get together “gives us all a lot of hope” that a deal is close to getting hammered-out.

Robinson says Deal and Bentley met to start a general dialouge before each was sworn-in as governor, but have not yet met face-to-face since.