The state of Florida is filing suit in the U.S. Supreme Court “to stop Georgia’s unchecked consumption of water that threatens the existence of Apalachicola fisheries and the future economic development of this region.” Gov. Rick Scott made the announcement in a news release August 13th. The suit, which Gov. Scott said will be filed this month, will seek injunctive relief from Georgia’s use of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint River basins. Gov. Scott, explaining the purpose of the lawsuit said:
This lawsuit will be targeted toward one thing — fighting for the future of Apalachicola. This is a bold, historic legal action for our state. But this is our only way forward after 20 years of failed negotiations with Georgia. We must fight for the people of this region. The economic future of Apalachicola Bay and Northwest Florida is at stake.
According to a release from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the metro Atlanta area primarily gets its water from the Chattahoochee River with withdrawals totaling 360 million gallons per day. FDEP said that rate is expected to nearly double to 705 gallons by 2035. Significantly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared a fisheries disaster last month for Apalachicola Bay oysters, which traditionally supplies 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and 10 percent of the U.S. harvest. The NOAA declaration cited lack of fresh water to the Bay as the primary cause for the poor oyster harvests, which have declined nearly 60 percent this year. Alabama and Florida have each previously challenged Georgia’s use of water from Lake Lanier and the river basins unsuccessfully. I have wondered why this matter hasn’t been resolved by a court since it’s been going on for a long time.
Jennifer Ardis, press secretary for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, said that “Alabama will consider all available options to protect our right to a fair share of the water in the Chattahoochee River.” The governor said he couldn’t “comment on any future actions that Alabama may take,” but that he would “continue to work to ensure that our citizens get their fair share of the water.” This is an extremely important matter for Alabama and especially for the counties in Southeast Alabama.
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