Fla. Faces Upstream Ga. Water Fight, Despite High Court Win
Despite the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 decision in favor of Florida in its suit against neighboring state Georgia's water usage, their battle is not over.
The state filed a lawsuit to cap Georgia's use of water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin—which spans Georgia, southeastern Alabama, and northwestern Florida—in order to protect Florida's Apalachicola Bay fishery and its depleted oyster supply. This water dispute between the states dates to 1989, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended that water flowing through a dam on the Chattahoochee River in northern Georgia be used for the needs of the growing metropolitan area of Atlanta. Florida must now argue that the benefits of saving their fisheries is worth the costs of possible water shortages to Georgia, while they wait for a special master remedy.
Though the Supreme Court cannot force a remedy on the Army Corps, environmental attorney Stacy Watson May agreed that the Corps will likely follow theirs orders, and said it's clear the Supreme Court believes it has the authority to enforce their decision and work within the Corps policy.
"The policies of the Corps in terms of water relief and how they interpret things is not law," Ms. Watson May told Law360. "You'd have to go back to the statutory provisions and regulatory provisions; just because it's the Corps policy doesn't mean it's binding."