To assert that because "Florence doesn't own the river, dam or locks" as an excuse not to assess tax for the benefits derived from it's use raises some interesting issues & questions.
Neither the city nor county own U.S. Hwy 72 but that hasn't stopped the Florence Police Department from patrolling the area and citing drivers accused of violating regulations/laws.
Who, then, owns the river? The state? Alabama has been involved in an on-going "water war" with Georgia, Florida and Tennessee over who uses our water from our rivers, such as the 1.) Tennessee, 2.) Weiss Lake (feeds the Coosa River in GA), 3.) R.L Harris Reservoir in Randolph county,4.) Lake Harding (feeds the Chattahoochee River in GA), 5. Chattahoochee River (which is technically and legally in AL).
It seems that Atlanta has been experiencing a water supply problem because of their growth, so they took to sipping from Alabama's sweet supply.
Thus, a protracted lawsuit ensued.
So, back to the original question.
Who controls the water running through Florence?
Now, that begs the original question I posed: How does the Shoals benefit from the Tennessee River?
To assert that 'we benefit because bazillions of dollars of stuff rides through here' is simply inane.
Florence can and does regulate use of the river for the portion of it that flows through their legal boundaries.
Thus, they can control -to some extent- the river and those on it.
If control is an issue, who then is responsible for its control?
(It seems the Coast Guard is involved in the Arabian Gulf. What is up with THAT!?! http://www.uscg.mil/Pacarea/News/newsreleases/2003/may/may14.htm)
According to the U.S. Coast Guard website, the USCG's "mission is to protect the public, the environment, and the United States economic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk, including international waters and America's coasts, ports, and inland waterways."
Gee whiz Wally... where are the Coast Guards now? Ain't we got no tare-ists, or terroristas in the Shoals?"USCG has a broad and important role in homeland security, law enforcement, search and rescue, marine environmental pollution response, and the maintenance of river, intracoastal and offshore aids to navigation."
Them USCG folk say thar s'pozt'a be environmental watchdawgs.
Reckon why they ain't been a-patrollin' thuh Tenuhsee Rivur?