Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Water Wars

A settlement in an ongoing 25-year water war between Florida and Georgia has not yet been attained, but a move towards compromise was just announced. Special master, Ralph Lancaster, who was previously appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to help resolve the dispute, said he was delighted to see both the word ‘settlement’ and the word ‘mediator’ in recent status reports, indicating a move to the formal ADR process of mediation. Lancaster already urged attorneys for each state to settle the water wars case amongst themselves, rather than risk an unsatisfactory outcome for all involved. Georgia's Governor set aside $20 million for the latest legal battle pitting Florida’s ailing oyster industry against Georgia’s right to use Chattahoochee River water across metro Atlanta. Florida states that Georgia’s overconsumption of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which includes Lake Lanier, is creating economic hardship, particularly on the oyster industry in the Florida Panhandle region's Apalachicola Bay. Georgia also seeks to maintain full use of the Flint River and its tributaries for farmers in southwest Georgia. The rivers join at the Florida border, becoming the Apalachicola River. Crucial to Florida's seafood folks is a fresh water-salt water balance for oysters to survive in the Apalachicola Bay. While there's been no material progress on a global settlement since last summer, Georgia now reportedly believes the best way to advance the process is "to engage a mediator acceptable to both sides who can create a framework for formal in-person discussions and periodic exchanges of information specifically directed to settlement.” Florida apparently welcomed the suggestion, along with the special master. See news stories here-- and