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Supreme Court Sides with Georgia in ‘Water Wars’ Lawsuit

The Supreme Court recently sided with the state of Georgia over a 2013 lawsuit filed by Florida.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in a case that Florida filed back in 2013 “over the allocation of water that flows between the two states.” The court sided with the state of Georgia in a unanimous, 9-0 opinion written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett. According to the court, “Florida failed to prove its allegations that Georgia’s water consumption from the Chattahoochee and Flint river systems caused the failure of Florida’s oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay.” Barrett further wrote:

“Florida allowed unprecedented levels of oyster harvesting in the years before the collapse…consumption had little to no impact on the bay’s oyster population.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019. Image via Wikimedia Commons,, credited as: U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Tori Miller. Public domain.

When the state of Florida filed the suit, it argued that “increasing water consumption in rapidly growing metro Atlanta was causing unacceptably low flows where the Chattahoochee River enters Florida at Lake Seminole.” During oral arguments in February, lawyers representing Florida “put more of the blame on water consumption by farmers in the lower Flint River irrigating their crops.”

When responding to the court’s decision, Governor Brian Kemp said the decision was a “resounding victory for Georgia and a vindication of the steps the state has taken to boost water-use efficiency.” He added:

“Our state will continue to wisely manage water resources and prioritize conservation, while also protecting Georgia’s economy and access to water.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr also chimed in and said:

“The Supreme Court … affirmed what we have long known to be true: Georgia’s water use has been fair and reasonable…We will continue to be good stewards of our water resources, and we are proud to have obtained a positive resolution to this years-long dispute on behalf of all Georgians.”

When the suit was initially filed, Florida was hoping the court would “place a cap on Georgia’s water consumption.” However, Georgia’s lawyers pushed back and said a cap would “bring growth in metro Atlanta – and the region’s economy with it – grinding to a halt and devastate Southwest Georgia’s farm belt.” 

The recent ruling isn’t the end to the water wars going on between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, though. The so-called water wars have been going on for about three decades and don’t show any sign of slowing. In fact, Alabama is in the process of challenging an agreement “Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed in January that for the first time authorized the use of Lake Lanier as a water supply.”

Sources:

Georgia prevails over Florida in ‘water wars’ lawsuit

Supreme Court gives Georgia win in water war with Florida

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