Friday, December 13, 2019

Florida Loses Water Wars

After rejecting a now deceased Special Master's ruling in favor of Florida and remanding to a new Special Master to make further findings regarding Florida's claim it suffered harm from the overconsumption of water by Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court this week received a recommendation not to grant Florida’s request for a decree equitably apportioning the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. The Special Master found the evidence did not show harm to Florida caused by Georgia and that Georgia’s water use is reasonable. Additionally, the evidence did not show that the benefits of apportionment would substantially outweigh the potential harms. Florida asked for oral argument that took place last month, where it asserted the first Special Master found that Georgia’s upstream water use was unreasonable and that the Supreme Court already rejected an additional finding that nothing could be done because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which manages the reservoirs in the river system) is not a party to the case. Florida sought a cap on consumption that would alleviate past damage allegedly caused by Georgia. Georgia maintained any limits on its water use would undermine its economy, including the growth of the Atlanta area and the state’s agriculture industry. Florida wanted to limit Georgia’s water consumption from the basin, including Lake Lanier, to 1992 levels and to get reparations for alleged economic and environmental harm to Apalachicola's oyster fisheries from drought. Georgia claimed Florida failed to prove harm to aquatic species. This blog has followed the Water Wars for years in several other entries and it now appears this will be the ultimate conclusion in this case of original jurisdiction, absent further action and a presumed adoption of findings by SCOTUS. See more in very detailed report here--