Oct. 2, 2013 – Florida is delivering the latest blow in a two-decade water fight with Georgia.
Florida is alleging in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Supreme Court that its northern neighbor is using too much freshwater in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin, which includes Lake Lanier.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the expected legal action Tuesday, with Scott saying in a news release from his office that it was needed “to stop Georgia’s unmitigated consumption of water.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson said in response to Florida’s action, “The only ‘unmitigated consumption’ going on around here is Florida’s waste of our tax dollars on a frivolous lawsuit.”
The dispute hinges largely over withdrawals from Lake Lanier, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir on the Chattahoochee River that provides water to metro Atlanta. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers merge to form the Apalachicola River, which flows to the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2009, a federal judge ruled that metro Atlanta had little right to take water from Lake Lanier. He then ordered that metro Atlanta’s water withdrawals would be drastically restricted unless the three states reached a settlement.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned that ruling in 2011, though, finding that metro Atlanta could use the reservoir for water, with restrictions.
Georgia then gained further leverage in June 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Florida and Alabama of the 11th Circuit ruling.
The corps is currently studying how much water North Georgia can take from the system. But corps officials have acknowledged it will be years before that study is complete.
Information from the Gainesville Times
Copyright Glory 1330 2013