As kids growing up in Atlanta, David and Michael Hanson never thought about who owns the water in the Chattahoochee River. Twenty years later, that question would become the central theme of their 30-day canoe trip on the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola river system from its source in the North Georgia Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico.

In the December 2013 issue of Canoe & Kayak, David writes about the so-called Water Wars smoldering between state officials in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. A conventional reporter would go to the three statehouses and ask politicians to comment. The Hansons decided to take to the water, where they solicited opinions from people who know live on the rivers and know them intimately. Through nearly 500 river miles, the brothers paint vivid pictures of this embattled watershed, David’s in words, and Michael’s in photos. With Andrew Kornylak, the brothers are working on a film about their trip. Who Owns Water will debut in early 2014.

Like any long river trip, though, this one wasn’t all tailwinds and butterflies. Let David tell it to the camera.

Read “The Water Wars” in Canoe & Kayak, on newsstands today.

Go to their water blog to learn more about their day-to-day adventures on the river.

The question: who owns water?

Kendall Schoelles, oysterman on his boat in Apalachicola Bay. Does he own water? Photo: David Hanson