A divided court gives Florida another opportunity to draw more water out of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin and away from Atlanta.
A decades-long legal battle that has thus far incurred more than $100 million in legal fees took an unexpected turn on June 27 when the nation’s highest court ruled that a court-appointed special master was “too strict” when ruling for Georgia. Previously, the Supreme Court appointed Special Master Ralph Lancaster to study the issue, which involves two rivers, the Chattahoochee and the Flint, that flow through Georgia and converge to become the Apalachicola at the Florida-Georgia state line. Georgia relies on the Chattahoochee and the Flint to provide drinking water for Atlanta and to irrigate farms that produce cotton, corn, soybeans, and peanuts. Florida sued its northern neighbor to protect the state’s fishing industry in and around Apalachicola Bay by imposing consumption caps. The special master agreed that Florida had been harmed by Georgia’s overuse of water, but that it failed to meet its obligation to show that the consumption caps it seeks to impose would actually be of benefit.
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