The U.S. Supreme Court will let stand a lower court ruling that threatens Georgia’s long-term water use plans for the Atlanta region, giving Alabama and Florida a pivotal victory in the states’ long-running water wars. The court’s decision raises fundamental questions about Georgia’s rights to Lake Lanier, a huge federal reservoir outside Atlanta, that serves as the city’s main water source. The ruling could also play a key role in deciding related water-rights disputes in lower courts.
The decision involves a 2003 water-sharing agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers that would have allowed Georgia to take far more water from Lanier for its drinking supply over the coming decades. The agreement would have allowed Georgia’s withdrawals to jump from about 13% of the lake’s capacity to about 22%. Alabama and Florida contested the pact, arguing that larger withdrawals would cripple downstream flows into their states. The two states said the lake was initially built for hydropower and providing water to Georgia was not an authorized use.
While a federal district court ruled with Georgia, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington overturned that decision and invalidated the agreement. Georgia then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Other states were watching the case closely because the legal questions involved could strongly influence several other pending cases. As you probably know, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia have been in a legal and political battle over water rights since the early 1990s. The fight intensified in the past year as extreme drought has gripped our region of the country. The Governors of the three states began new negotiations last year attempting to reach a settlement. But the talks failed, and it appears the courts will have to decide the issue.
Source: Associated Press
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.