Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments Monday, Feb. 22, in the ongoing battle over Georgia’s use of a shared river basin with the state of Florida.
According to an article by Bloomberg Law, the case revolves around the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which serves the Atlanta metro area, rural Georgia and the oyster industry on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where the state of Florida argues Georgia farmers along the Flint River are using too much water. The overuse, Florida said, depletes fresh water that flows into Apalachicola Bay and decreases the oyster population. Georgia argues that resource management decisions on behalf of Florida are to blame for the decrease.
Lake Lanier is part of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin headwaters.
The state of Florida originally filed suit in 2013 after failed negotiations with Georgia and asked Supreme Court justices to cap Georgia’s water use in the basin. The case is an original jurisdiction proceeding, which sent the dispute straight to the Supreme Court. A court-appointed special official determined Florida failed to meet the legal standards to cap Georgia’s usage, but justices decided in 2018 the official’s decision was too strict.
A new special official sided with Georgia again in 2019, and the Supreme Court will now decide whether to adhere to that decision, reject it or require additional proceedings, according to the article by Bloomberg Law.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case by summer.
— Staff Reports