Water judge again rules against state

Published 6:18 am Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The federal judge who ruled in July that metro Atlanta’s water supply withdraws from Lake Lanier were illegal, ruled against Georgia again Monday.

Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson refused Monday to agree that his order was a final judgment in the case and said it does not provide injunctive relief, which the State of Georgia and two other parties had claimed, an Associated Press story said.

The State of Georgia, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the City of Atlanta joined together in seeking an appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

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Those three parties had claimed Magnuson’s order constituted an injunction, which would have given them one avenue of immediate appeal.

However, Magnuson issued a three-page order Monday, saying, “No injunctive relief was ordered or intended by the court’s July 17, 2009, order.”

In the July ruling, Magnuson said the original intent of Lake Lanier—which was not to supply water for Atlanta-metro area’s 4 million people—must be honored and future water withdraws must receive the approval of Congress. The water withdraws must stop within three years unless the Atlanta-area municipalities receive approval from Congress.

The allocation of water of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers among the various interests within Georgia, Florida and Alabama has been going on for more than 20 years.

Magnuson also frowned upon Georgia’s continued litigation, saying an appeal would only delay and further complicate the resolution of the dispute.